Starwatch: Leonid meteor shower peaks this week

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Starwatch for the week of November 16-22, 2020

This week, the Leonid meteor shower peaks!

This meteor shower began around the 6th of this month and will last through the 30th. The peak is expected around November 16th and 17th this year with around 10-15 meteors per hour.

Earth passes through the debris from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle this time of year. The debris burns in Earth’s atmosphere and creates the Leonids. The meteor shower gets its name from the constellation they appear to radiate from, which is Leo the Lion.

The moon will be on our side this meteor shower when it comes to viewing. Not only will the moon be a waxing crescent, but it will also be setting early in the evenings. This will allow for a darker sky through the night and more meteors can be seen. 

The Leonids begin to pick up in activity around midnight. The best time to view the Leonids is early in the morning, before sunrise. 

The Leonids are known for its great storms in history. About every 33 years, the Comet Tempel-Tuttle comes close enough to earth to produce an enhanced shower, even up to 100,000 meteors per hour! The last major Leonid storm was in 1966. Since then, there have been good showings, but not nearly has much as in 1966. The next enhanced shower is expected in 2031.

As always, the best way to view meteor showers is by going to a dark place away from city lights, get comfortable, and look up! You’ll want to be patient and give yourself time to see the meteors and time for your eyes to adjust. 

Thanks to EarthSky

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