The Leonid Meteor Show Will Peak This Week—If You Catch It, Expect to See 10 Shooting Stars in an Hour

The annual meteor shower will be most visible around midnight on Thursday, November 17.

leonid meteor shower long exposer image
Photo: Courtesy of NASA

Calling all stargazers: Look into the night sky this week and you're slated to spot a few shooting stars. The Leonid Meteor shower, an annual event that reaches Earth every November, is expected to peak around midnight on Thursday, November 17 and into the early hours on Friday, the Planetary Society reports.

Leonids are produced when debris released from Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle reaches Earth's atmosphere. The dust evaporates and creates the light that we call meteor showers. Comet 55P completes a single orbit once every 33 years, but it releases fresh debris every time it reaches the sun.

The annual shower gets its name from the constellation Leo the Lion, because the meteors outwardly radiate from the location of the stars and create the illusion of a lion's mane. This projection means that the stars will appear in all parts of the sky, so there's no specific direction you need to look at when observing the meteor shower.

The meteor storms caused by the Leonids have been observed since 1833, when it produced its first large meteor storm, releasing more than 100,000 meteors an hour. While it's historically been known as one of the most impressive showers, Leonid activity has been minimal in recent years.

In 2022, viewers of the phenomenon should expect to see about five to 10 shooting stars during an hour's watch—still more than your average night. This year, the event coincides with a lunar phase after a waning quarter moon. According to the Planetary Society, this means that Leonids will be harder to see.

Scientists say the best place to spot a meteor shower is in the country, but if that's not available to you, simply find a remote area with little light pollution. No matter where you view the galactic event, be sure to find an open area with 360-degree views of the sky.

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