If you missed the solar eclipse and other beautiful sky sights this year, you’ll definitely want to mark your calendars for the Leonid meteor shower. The shooting star display, which peaks this weekend, has a spectacular show in store for millions of viewers. Yes, millions.
What is the Leonid meteor shower?
Like other meteor showers, the Leonid meteor shower is a display of shooting stars, caused by the Earth moving through dust left behind by a comet and the heat that makes the meteors glow as they hit our atmosphere. It happens once a year.
“The Leonid meteors are tied to the comet Tempel-Tuttle. It makes fairly frequent passes through the inner solar system,” said David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather.
This year’s shower will be “light” in comparison to other showers of years’ past, producing about 15 meteors per hour starting on Friday around midnight and lasting into dawn on Saturday. Back in 1966, this same shower produced hundreds of meteors. But just because there’s less meteors there doesn’t mean it’ll be any less of a show. Favorable weather conditions mean a clear view for many cosmic enthusiasts — as long as they’re in the right location.
How to Watch the Leonid Meteor Shower
If you’re in the western, central, or southern parts of the US, we have some great news for you: You’re set to be front and center for a show that will surely leave you starstruck (sorry, we couldn’t resist!). Sadly, if you live in the Northeast, Great Lakes region, or the central Plains, you may not be able to catch a glimpse, due to a storm system set to hit.
But if you live in the locations with optimal viewing conditions, experts recommend heading out on the peak night and dedicate at least an hour to viewing the show.
“Do not look at any light source during that hour like a phone, flash light, or any type of screen. Your eyes will gradually adjust by a half hour, then you will have perfect night vision,” Samuhel said.
But with that beautiful show in front of you, why would you want to look at your phone anyway?