Don’t forget to look up tonight!
2020 has given us star showers a plenty, and we start off this week with yet another dazzling show. Tonight, the Leonid meteor shower is set to give us a starry spectacle. The shower, named after the constellation Leo the Lion, will surely live up to its proud and expressive name as it sends off sparkling fireballs from the very stars that make up its showy mane.
The meteor shower is set to peak in the dark hours between midnight and dawn the morning of November 17. It will be most visible from anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, although not impossible to view from the Southern Hemisphere.
The moon and light pollution play a big role in the visibility of meteors. Fortunately, according to the American Meteor Society, the moon will only be 5% full this evening, so the sky seems to be in good condition to see the show, weather permitting. Driving away from the city to a quiet open space will give you the best viewing experience.
During peak hours, stargazers will be able to see from 10 – 15 meteors per hour all across the night sky. Stargazers can expect to see fireballs, which are bigger, brighter and last longer than the average meteor, as well as earthgrazers, low-flying meteors with long colorful tails that traverse close to the horizon.
The Leonid meteor showers occur every year in November. Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, leaving behind a trail of debris that vaporizes in the atmosphere. While this year won’t produce a dense meteor storm, it will surely be a stunning spectacle and will be much more easily viewed than last year due to tonight’s thin, crescent moon.
While you might have picture-perfect 20/20 vision, you’d do yourself one better by coming equipped with binoculars to get a closer look at the interstellar spectacle.
Any photographers out there? According to NASA, your best bet is to use a camera with manual focus on a tripod with a shutter release cable or built-in timer, fitted with a wide-angle lens.
[Featured image: Tengyart via Unsplash]