Take a glance up during the next few nights to try to catch some of the Leonid meteor shower. It’s peaking during the early morning hours Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18.
This happens each year as Earth’s orbit moves through the Comet Tempel-Tuttle trail. Since we know the earth’s orbit and timing of it, we can predict when it moves through the debris of a comet. For instance each year we know we will pass through Halley’s Comet in October and that’s when the Orionid meteor shower peaks.
A meteor is a piece of rock, dust, or some other organic material in space that becomes visible as it burns up in our atmosphere. If a meteor were to successfully reach to the ground without burning up completely, it would be called a meteorite.
Try not to get too excited about the expectations of this meteor shower peaking right now. That’s because it can be difficult to forecast how many meteors will streak across the sky. In general this event looks to be a “lighter” one in terms of activity. Still though, we have one thing on our side; a new moon. The moon will go into the “new phase” on November 18, opposite of full moon, thus it won’t pollute the sky with brightness. That said, the sky should be nice and dark to take in a shooting star. But what about the cloud forecast?
These are the cloud forecasts during peak time for the Leonid meteor shower. Again, peak activity is between midnight and dawn Friday and Saturday. I threw Sunday in there with hopes that we may still see a straggler or two for meteor action. Fortunately it looks like clouds will be on the move so it doesn’t look like most of us will have two cloudy nights in a row. Have a safe and happy viewing!
For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Steve Glazier