The annual light show is always a treat, even if it’s not quite as spectacular as some of the other meteor showers we get to witness throughout the course of the year. Every once in a while, though, the Leonids manage to surprise us.
This year, you probably won’t see more than 15-20 meteors per hour.
The Leonid Meteor Shower is caused by the debris field left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which passes through the inner reaches of our solar system every 33 years. With each pass, the icy visitor leaves a trail of dust in its wake. The Earth passes through this debris field every year in mid-November.
Tonight’s meteors will appear to emanate from the constellation of Leo the Lion, south of the Big Dipper, although they can appear anywhere in the nighttime sky.
For the best view, just venture outside after midnight and look to the east. The moon will only be at crescent status this year, so it won’t present an obstacle to your meteor-viewing experience.
If you don’t feel like venturing outdoors for the 2012 Leonid Meteor Shower, fear not – the Geminids will arrive around December 13.
More in the video below.
- Moonless nights for November 2012 Leonid meteor shower (earthsky.org)
- Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Before Dawn Saturday (space.com)
- Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Saturday, November 17, 2012 (spacedaily.com)