The Leonid meteor shower should get under way about 10:30 p.m. Monday.
Scientists predict the shower will be visible in the night sky from Western Africa to the Eastern United States. The best time for viewing will be in the two hours before sunrise Tuesday morning.
Scientists predict the next opportunity to view such an active Leonid shower will be in 2098.
The meteors are dust particles shed by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which swings around the sun once every 33 years. The dust for this year's show was laid down by the comet in 1866.
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Leonid Meteor Shower
- First peak: 810 - 5,900 meteors per hour
- Second peak: 2.400 - 6,000 meteors per hour
- The Leonids were first seen in the 10th century.
- It was the 1833 Leonid storm witnessed over North America that resulted in the modern study of meteors.
- They are called the Leonids because they appear to radiate out of the constellation Leo.
- The meteors are composed of debris from the comet Temple-Tuttle.
- High activity from the Leonids can happen over several years every 33 years.
- A meteor results when a small particle of dust orbiting the Sun collides with the Earth's atmosphere.
- The particles are intensely heated in collision with the atmosphere, with atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere causing both the particle and air surrounding it to glow.
What do Leonids Look Like?
- The Leonids are fast meteors that appear as brief streaks of light.
- Leonids usually contain a large number of very bright meteors. The trains of these bright meteors can last from several seconds to several minutes.
- They enter Earth's atmosphere traveling at speeds of over 158,000 miles per hour (mph).
Tips For Spotting Meteors
- Find a dark place to watch from; far from the city or other lights.
- You don't have to look at the radiant (point of origin) to see meteors.
- If the moon is in the sky, look at other parts of the sky or find a way to block the moon from view.