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The Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak this weekend

The Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak this weekend

Georgi Lekowski/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Leonid meteor streaks across the night sky above the Stone Dolls in Koklis, North Macedonia, on November 17, 2020. In 2023, the meteor will reach its peak on Saturday, November 18.

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Next up for stunning end-of-year celestial spectacles is the Leonid meteor shower, which is set to produce bright meteors with continuous trains shooting across the night sky.

Leonids have been active since early November but are expected to peak this weekend at 12:33 a.m. ET on Saturday. According to Earth Sky. Skygazers can see 10 to 15 meteors per hour in a dazzling display.

Those looking to catch a glimpse of the meteor from this shower are in luck because the moon will be in the waxing crescent phase, and there won’t be as much light interference as there is with a full moon, he said. Dr. Sharon Morsink, Professor of Physics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. The moon will be 23% full on the night of peak rainfall, according to the British Daily Mail American Meteor Society.

While the peak is on Saturday, the same rates of meteors can be seen a few days before and after. The best time to view the shower would be after midnight in any time zone when the constellation Leo is highest in the sky, said Morsink, who also runs the university’s astronomical observatory. She explained that Leo is the radiant of meteor showers, which is the point from which this phenomenon appears to have originated.

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“The most important thing is to stay away from light pollution,” Morsink said. “You can still see some meteors if you’re in the city, but you won’t see anywhere near as many as you can if you go out of the city.”

Leonids are known for generating meteor storms, the term used when the rainfall rate reaches at least 1,000 meteors per hour. According to NASA.

Holding the record for the highest rate of meteors per hour seen in a meteor stream, the Leonids produced 144,000 meteors per hour in 1966, according to American Meteor Society. The shower also produced explosions at higher rates in 1999 and 2001, but the community doesn’t expect another storm until 2099, when Earth is expected to encounter a dense cloud of debris from its parent comet, Tempel-Tuttle.

As the comet moves around the Sun, it leaves behind a trail of rocks and dust that appears like the annual Leonid meteor shower when Earth moves through the debris as it travels its orbital path.

Although a Leonid storm is not expected this year, there’s always a chance we’ll see a few more meteors than expected, Morsink said.

“Going out and seeing a meteor shower for the first time is always fun,” she said. “It’s just this interesting connection that we have with the entire solar system — this is a comet that is far away from us and has been orbiting the sun for an incredibly long time, probably billions of years. … It’s a way for us to communicate with things that are really far away.”

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Leonid meteors are expected to be seen blazing in the sky until the showers end on December 2, according to the European Space Agency. American Meteor Society. If you’re curious to see more, here are the remaining meteor showers that will peak in 2023:

● Gemini: December 13-14

● Ursids: December 21-22

There are two moons remaining in 2023, According to the Farmers’ Almanac:

● November 27: Beaver Moon

● December 26: Cold Moon