Look out for shooting stars! How to see the Leonids meteor shower as it peaks this weekend


The Leonids are among the most spectacular of all the annual meteor showers which light up our skies each year.

But this year’s celestial display is set to be a little more sedate than usual, although it will still be very beautiful.

The shower will reach its peak early on Sunday and Monday morning (November 17 and 18) between midnight and dawn.

Royal Museums Greenwich, an organisation which manages the Royal Observatory, wrote: ‘The Leonids are usually one of the more prolific annual meteor showers, with fast, bright meteors associated with Comet Tempel-Tuttle.

‘As the comet follows its path around the sun, it leaves a path of tiny debris. The cometary debris enters our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.’

The Leonids meteor shower was given its name because its radiant – the point in the sky where the meteors seem to come from – is within the Leo constellation.

A view of the Leonid meteor shower captured near Amman, Jordan (Picture: Reuters)
The Leonid meteor is made up of small fragments which break off from a comet called Temple-Tuttle

There should be between 15 and 20 shooting stars visible every hour, as long as skies are clear.

Here are Nasa’s tips for watching the natural wonder: ‘The Leonids are best viewed starting at about midnight local time. Find an area well away from city or street lights.

‘Come prepared for winter temperatures with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair.

‘Orient yourself with your feet towards east, lie flat on your back, and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.

‘Be patient – the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.’





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