November’s a big month for celestial happenings, and this weekend, the Leonid meteor shower continues the fun. These meteors are some of the fastest and brightest stargazers will see all year, making for a much-needed break in the monotony of this unreasonably long month.
The Leonids peak every year in mid-November, when Earth and the peak every year in mid-November, when Earth and the Comet Tempel-Tuttle cross orbital paths. Debris from the object enters Earth’s atmosphere, and the result is that we all get to enjoy a late-autumn meteor shower. According to EarthSky, the best time to watch the shower this year is “from midnight to dawn” on Friday and Saturday.
While you won’t need expensive binoculars or a telescope to view the Leonids, you will need some patience. At its peak, the shower can produce about 20 meteors an hour — so it’s truly worth the wait.
While the Leonids are named because they appear to come from the constellation Leo, you can find meteors streaking across any part of the night sky. Best of all, Saturday’s new moon will make for ideal viewing conditions, since the moon’s light won’t be there to interfere with stargazing.
The best place to view the Leonids — or any meteor shower, really — is in an area with little to no light pollution. While this is tricky for city dwellers, an early morning road trip into the middle of nowhere could be a fun option. That totally doesn’t sound like the beginning of a horror movie!
As always, remember to have a good time and bring hot chocolate. Or whiskey. Or both.