(WSYR-TV, Syracuse) The morning of November 17th is the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. Usually we have to fight off clouds, but it looks like mainly clear skies will be with us Friday night. In addition, the peak of the shower occurs during new moon, so this year moonlight will not interfere with your viewing, and we will have dark skies. While you can see meteors, or falling stars, any night, on the morning of November 17th, we’ll actually be moving through a concentrated area of debris, increasing the chances of seeing a meteor. It’s really impossible to get a gauge on how many meteors can be seen in an hour, but this particular shower can produce anywhere from a few meteors per hour, to dozens. You can’t see them, unless you’re outside.
You can go out and look beginning Friday evening, but the peak time is after 2 am Saturday morning. Temperatures will likely be in the mid to upper 20s.
What is it?
The meteors are debris left behind from the passage of comet 55p/Tempel -Tuttle. As the earth travels through the debris field, these comet particles smash into our atmosphere at speeds reaching 40 miles per second. The streaks of light will be moving fast! Sometimes the Leonids can leave a brief smoke trail and tend to be bright and white or blue-white in color.
How do I see the shower?
This is the easy part. All you have to do is go outside and look up. The farther away from city lights the better, as skies will be darker. Early Friday evening (11/16), you’ll want to face east, and look about halfway up. You’ll want to look almost straight up around midnight, and then around 2 am Saturday (11/17), you’ll want to face westward and look about halfway up from the horizon. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars. Just your eyes. You may need some patience. Along with a winter coat, hat and gloves. Temperatures Friday night will drop into the 20s. An extra blanket or two isn’t a bad idea if you’re going to out awhile and a lawn chair could provide a comfortable option to lie down on.
The shower is called the Leonid meteor shower, because the meteors tend to originate from the area of the sky where Leo the Lion is found.