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Leonid Meteor Shower Peaking This Week

16 Nov 2016, 10:12 am

The Supermoon has been getting most of the celestial attention recently, but another space viewing event is occurring this week. One of the most reliable events for seeing “shooting stars”, the Leonid Meteor Shower will be peaking early Thursday morning. It is known for producing some of the greatest meteor storms; thousands have occurred in an hour during top years. The above image is from NASA in 1999 during an impressive storm, with the image below was during the meteor shower in 2012 showing a fireball viewed from NASA .

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The Leonid Meteor Shower occurs when the Earth passes through debris left from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The bright streaks in the night sky happen as the bits and pieces leftover from the comet burn-up entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Looking east toward the constellation Leo during peak hours may provide for the best viewing.

The Moon is still rather bright, in a waning gibbous phase after the Supermoon. Its light will make some of the smaller meteors tough to see. For that reason, rates of 10-15 meteors an hour are more likely this year rather than the hundreds or thousands from past showers. If it is cloudy in your area, you can watch the event live online from the Slooh Community Observatory, starting at 8 p.m. EST.

The shower does tend to linger a few days past the peak, so “shooting stars” from the Leonids may be visible into early next week.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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