Leonid Meteor Shower: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of Nov. 16’s Peak

by Suzanne Halliburton

Find a place outside the city lights tonight and dig in for the spectacle of the Leonid Meteor Shower.

The showers will be around until the end of the month. They started Nov. 6. But the peak is tonight and early tomorrow. It’s basically best from midnight until dawn.

The Leonid Meteor Showers happen when Earth crosses paths with the trail left by Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Or, you can just call the comet Temple/Tuttle. The showers occur when the debris dust vaporizes as it hits the Earth’s atmosphere. Actually, what we’re seeing is a previous pass of the comet.

They get their name from where they start in our sky. They start at the radiant in the Leo star constellation.

According to Space.com, the Leonids are known for producing some specular meteor storms. It says the best storm displays occurred in 1799, 1833, and 1966. That’s when the meteor rates of tens of thousands per hour were recorded.

The site says more recent displays in 1999, 2001, and 2002 were nice meteor storms, but only of a few thousands of meteors an hour.

Recommendations For Best Leonid Meteor Viewing

For best viewing, it’s recommended:

If you live in a city, drive out to a spot that’s free of lights. You want to be able to see all the sky. Find a spot with no obstructions.

Don’t use a telescope or binoculars. The best viewing is with the naked eye. That way, nothing can limit your field of vision.

Allow yourself about 30 minutes to get your eyes used to darkness. Know that the weather or moonlight can mess up your viewing.

If you can’t find the perfect spot, or if skies are cloudy, NASA will live stream the showers. So will Slooh.

If you’d like some more recommendations, Earth Sky is listing hundreds of spots. Check it out here.

If you’d like to check out the 2020 meteor calendar, check out the list from the International Meteor Organization.