Leonid Meteor Showers Peak Tonight: How To See The Shooting Stars

The Leonid meteor showers is expected to peak tonight.
Credit: Alamy

Budding astronomers should keep an eye on the sky on Thursday night, as a breathtaking meteor shower is set to light it up.

The Leonid meteor showers happen each year, with fast, bright shooting stars soaring through the sky at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second.

The meteors appear to originate from a point in the constellation of Leo, which is where it gets its name.

The shower is linked to the Comet Tempel-Tuttle, as it tracks its orbit around the sun.

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Science journalist Will Gater wrote on Twitter: “It’s the peak of the Leonid meteor shower tonight.

“Not a big shower in terms of rates (and this year the Moon’s in Leo) but keep an eye out after midnight if you have clear skies as bright Leonids are often stunning.”

He added: “One of the best meteors I ever saw was a bright Leonid Earth-grazer.

“Was lying back on a sun lounger and saw it appear, rising from the radiant in the east.

“Expected it to stop at some point, but it just Kept. On. Going. Absolutely incredible.”

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So here’s everything you need to know about Thursday night’s Leonid meteor showers and how you can be in the best place to spot them…

What are the Leonid meteor showers?

The Leonard meteor showers are associated with the Tempel-Tuttle comet.

The point where the meteors often stream from (which is known as the radiant) is at the head of the constellation Leo the Lion.

The comet leaves a trail of tiny debris when following its path around the sun.

It enters the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second. The streaks of light we refer to as meteors are simply them vapourising, reports Royal Museums Greenwich.

When are the Leonid meteor showers?

The Leonid meteor showers are expected to be active from November 6 to November 30.

This year’s shower is expected to glow at its peak rate of meteors overnight from November 17-18, between midnight and sunrise across the world.

As per Royal Museums Greenwich, sky gazers can expect to see fast and bright meteors lighting up the sky, leaving long streams behind them.

Around 10 meteors per hour are expected at its peak.

How can I watch the Leonid meteor showers?

Your best chance of catching a glimpse of the Leonid meteor showers this year is to travel to a concealed area, away from city lights. Somewhere you can get a wide view of the dark sky.

They can often take several hours to appear, so a comfy chair and appropriate clothing (for the dodgy winter weather) might be beneficial.

You won’t need a telescope or binoculars, either, as the showers are said to be best viewed without any equipment.

What if I miss the Leonid meteor showers?

If you miss the Leonid meteor showers when peaking, fear not, as it carries on for a few days on either side of peak time, providing plenty of opportunities to lay your eyes on the jaw-dropping meteor showers. 

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