Watching the Skies: Leonid meteors to shine in moonless night

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The peak of the Leonid meteor shower will arrive this week.

Though the Leonid meteor shower isn’t the most impressive meteor shower of the year, a lack of moonlight will enhance viewing. The peak will arrive early Tuesday. On Wednesday evening, the moon will set before midnight, allowing for dark skies before dawn.

For best viewing, get away from city lights. The Leonid meteors radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion, but you can look anywhere in the night sky and have a chance of seeing a meteor.

The annual Leonid meteor shower comes as the Earth passes through the orbital path of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle and debris from the comet burns up in the earth’s atmosphere. Any many as 10 or 15 meteors per hour will be possible at the peak.

In some previous years, the Leonids have been known to storm. In 1966, people in North America reported seeing 100,000 meteors per hour.

If you don’t have any luck spotting meteors, you’ll have an easy time finding the moon and two planets this week. The thin, waxing moon will pass by Saturn and Jupiter on the evenings of Nov. 18 through Nov. 21. It will be easy to spot bright Jupiter once you’ve located the moon and Saturn will be just up and to the left of Jupiter.

The moon will be below and to the right of the two planets on Nov. 18, just to the left of Saturn on Nov. 19, and to the upper left of the two on Nov. 20 and 21. To see the trio, look to the south after dark.

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