Written by Bryce Getchell | @Porkfryedbryce
Every year around mid-November the Leonid Meteor Shower hits the Earth. Often, stargazers might experience an intense meteor storm, with rates even as high as 50,000 per hour!
However, this year we may not be so lucky.
We experience the Leonid Meteor Shower annually as the Earth crosses into the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. During this time, debris and pieces of the comet will enter our atmosphere and fall to the Earth, usually burning up before hitting the surface. If any meteors do make it to the ground, they have typically burned up until they are around the size of a pebble. But every once in awhile a good sized meteor (meteorites) will crash into the Earth.
Don’t expect any meteorites this year though. The Leonid Meteor Shower that we will be encountering this time will be slightly less impressive, with rates of 10 to 15 per hour we will see significantly less meteors than usual. That’s not all, this year’s Supermoon (be sure to check out our Super Supermoon article) will outshine some of the meteors, interfering with our ability to see them during the first few days of the shower.
Don’t let that discourage you as it is still possible to see these “shooting stars.”
The Leonid Meteor Shower is scheduled to peak on Thursday, November 17th. We may see some meteors as early as the 13th, but this is when the Supermoon will likely outshine most of them. The Meteor Shower will continue until next Monday, the 21st. So you have a decent window to observe these meteors as they shoot across the sky, especially later in the week when the brightness of the moon will no longer obstruct your view.
There are things you can do to increase your chances of seeing a meteor during the shower, but mainly you just need to find an open area with minimal light, a good view of the night’s sky, and a little bit of patience.
For additional tips you can check out our article on the Orionid Meteor Shower we had a few weeks back. Also, if weather gets in the way, you can see a live broadcast of the Leonid Meteor Shower by visiting the Slooh Community Observatory’s website.