About the Leonid Meteor Shower
The Leonid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Leo, as the meteors appear to be falling from the constellation. The debris which makes up the Leonid shower are from the 55/P Tempel-Tuttle comet, which was discovered in 1865. In the northern hemisphere, approximately 40 meteors are expected to fall each hour. The Leonids are famous for producing meteor storms, in which 100’s of meteors can be seen per hour. In 1999, 2001, and 2002 over 3,000 Leonid meteors were seen each hour. In 2009, over 100 meteors were seen each our.
This year, the Leonid Meteor Shower will begin around November 13th and will continue through November 20th. The peak is November 17th to the 18th.
Viewing the Leonid Meteor Shower
In 2010, the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower falls on a half moon night. That’s the evening of November 17th through the morning of the 18th. The half moon will set after midnight, allowing a darker sky. If you are able to view the shower from a “dark” area, you will see more meteors.
The evening of November 17th, you should set up while facing southeast. Around midnight, the shower show will really begin, and you should look directly up. You will not need a telescope to view the shower.
For a checklist of items to bring while viewing the Leonids and how to stay safe while having fun, check out How to View Meteor Showers. The next meteor shower following the Leonids will be the Geminid meteor shower in December.