If you live somewhere with a clear sky and little light pollution, keep your eyes aimed at the heavens after the sun goes down. You’ll likely see a bevy of stars shooting across the upper atmosphere—a product of the annual Leonid meteor shower, which peaks tonight, November 17.
The celestial show got its name because it appears to originate from the constellation Leo. According to National Geographic, the stars arrive every November when the Earth passes through the dust trail of a large comet—the Tempel-Tuttle, which travels around the sun every 33 years. (Last month some of us got to see the Orionids, when we crossed the trail of Halley's comet.)
The show is generally spectacular, with dozens of meteors streaking through the sky per hour. However, CBS reports that tonight’s Leonids shower will have less of a roar than it has in previous years. The Tempel-Tuttle comet has gradually drifted away from the Sun during the course of its orbit—meaning there’ll be less debris for our planet to hit. Expect about 10 to 20 stars per hour, but do be consoled by the fact that tonight’s crescent moon will make for a darker sky. (Of course, your visibility will also be dependent on local weather conditions.)
The best time to tune into the meteor shower is between midnight and the predawn hours, but you may be able to see Leonids as early as 10 p.m. local time. Try to choose a viewing location far away from the lights of a big city—and don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars.
[h/t National Geographic]