The Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight! Late Saturday night (early Sunday morning) on November 16, 2013, the Leonids will be reaching its peak for the year — with an expected max rate of around 10-20 meteors an hour, when seen from a dark location. Something to note this year though — with the Moon currently in a relatively bright portion of its cycle, a great number of meteors may end up being washed out from the Moon’s light.
The Leonids are known for regularly producing very bright fireballs though, and those should easily overcome the Moon’s light — so, in my opinion, the meteor shower is still worth the time this year. 🙂
The best time to watch will be, roughly, between the hours of 2-5 am — but more or less anytime after dark will be good. As its name implies, the Leonids appear to originate from the portion of the sky containing the constellation of Leo — which will be rising in the east shortly after midnight. But, as always, you should be able to look at any portion of the sky and still see meteors.
As we reported previously: “While this year’s show isn’t expected to be anything spectacular, spectacular is what the Leonids are known for being — having produced some of the greatest meteor storms of the past three hundred years. In 1966 peak rates reached as high as several thousand meteors a minute, as seen from dark, rural locations — apparently appearing almost like falling rain, by some accounts. It was reported that because of the great number of meteors all appearing to originate from the same portion of the sky that many observers felt like they had to grip the ground to avoid falling over — with the Earth apparently appearing to be plowing through space at a great speed (as it actually is), rather than appearing stationary as it typically does to human perception.”
For information on the other great meteor showers of 2013, including the Geminids in December, see: Meteor Showers 2013, Dates and Times, Geminids, Leonids, Perseids, Ursids, Quadrantids, Etc.
A couple of generalized tips for meteor watching:
• Try to find the darkest sky that you can find, ideally far away from city lights. Dark and rural is what you’re looking for.
• Get as comfortable as you can. 🙂 A reclining chair, warm clothes, blankets, pillows, etc, all go a long way towards making the experience more enjoyable.
• Warm coffee or hot chocolate usually helps.
Image Credit: Leonid via Flickr CC