Get ready everyone. It might feel like the Perseid meteor shower just happened, but we’ve got another to look forward to today – the Leonids.
Today the meteor shower is at its peak, which means tonight you can expect to see about 10 to 15 meteors per hour when night falls.
The best time to see meteors will be from midnight tonight to dawn tomorrow, Saturday, so keep your eyes peeled.
And fortunately, there will be no Moon in the sky obscuring your view with its light, as we’re currently in a new Moon phase. So you should be in for a bit of a treat.
The Leonid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. As Earth passes through its tail the debris hits our atmosphere and vaporizes, causing meteors.
They will appear to originate towards the constellation of Leo, hence the name. This is known as the radiant point, all the meteors themselves will streak across the whole sky.
While this year’s Leonids aren’t too numerous, they have been known to be pretty extensive in the past. In fact, the largest meteor shower on record was caused by the Leonids in 1833, when more than 100,000 meteors were visible an hour.
Still, seeing any sort of meteor is impressive, and with a new Moon this time around, you’re guaranteed dark skies. So get an early nap tonight, then head to a dark spot around midnight – or wake up early – to try and catch a glimpse.
Remember to wrap up warm if you are outside, and use a red light if possible as a torch. This will ensure your eyes stay accustomed to the dark, and aren’t blinded by the white light from your torch or phone.
If you don’t manage to spot this meteor shower, fear not. In December we’ll be treated by the Geminids meteor shower, thought by some to be the most impressive of all.
The Geminids last from December 7 to 17, but peak on December 13 and 14. As many as 120 meteors could be visible an hour, and like the Leonids, there won’t be a new Moon obscuring the skies on those days.