Meteor shower to light up the early weekend sky

Meteor shower to light up the early weekend sky
Posted at 10:49 PM, Nov 16, 2017

If you're willing to brave the brisk, autumn air this weekend, you could be in for an astronomical treat. 

The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak in the early morning hours of Friday and Saturday, with roughly 15 meteors streaking across the night sky per hour, according to NASA. 

The meteors, otherwise known as shooting stars (although they are not actually stars), will appear to come from the constellation Leo. Leo will rise in the eastern sky around 11 p.m. local time, and remain in the southeast sky through 4 a.m.

The best place to look for the meteors will be in the east or southeast sky between midnight and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

For those who have seen the Leonids in the past, this will be a relatively mild meteor shower. Roughly every three decades, the Leonids produce an all-out storm, where there could be more than 1,000 meteors shooting across the night sky per hour. 

Leftover bits from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle is what produces the annual meteor shower. The comet orbits the sun once ever 33 years. The bits of dust and ice left behind from the comet enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up, causing the object to glow and streak through the atmosphere. 

These small pieces of dust and ice completely burn in the atmosphere and never make it to the ground.

NASA recommends that for optimal viewing, to get away from the lights of the cities, and to allow your eyes 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness.