The Leonids – one of the most famous annual meteor showers – are at their peak, giving keen skywatchers the chance to enjoy some free nighttime entertainment.
Like any meteor shower, the Leonids provide a great opportunity to see dramatic bright lights flashing across the sky as dust particles from a comet – in this case Tempel-Tuttle – hit Earth’s atmosphere.
Your best chance to see the so-called “shooting stars” is Friday night or Saturday morning, and EarthSky estimates that under dark skies you could see up to 15 meteors an hour burn through the atmosphere. If you’re busy with other things this weekend, you can also look for Leonids every night until December 2nd.
“The Leonids are bright, forming several long trains that last for a few seconds after the initial flash of light,” NASA says. And you don’t need to direct your gaze at any particular part of the sky for the Leonids. Simply look straight up and wait for a beam of light to catch your eye.
As long as you have a cloudless or mostly cloudless sky, the best way to view a meteor shower is to find a spot far enough away from any light pollution such as city lights.
To give yourself the best chance of seeing as many meteors as possible, try to find a viewing spot with a wide view of the sky, in other words, obscured by things like trees, buildings, and mountains.
If you plan to be outside for a while, be sure to dress warmly, and also bring blankets, hot drinks, and snacks with you so you’ll hopefully feel nice and cozy during a memorable light show.
Also, to avoid straining your neck and moving around like Frankenstein for the next few days, grab a chair if you have a portable reclining seat, or failing that, something warm to lie down on. So that you can easily see straight up.
Finally, if you don’t feel like going out in the cold, or it’s too cloudy where you are, try the live stream (top) of Japan’s Subaru Telescope, located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.