The Leonids meteor shower will peak this weekend, which means skywatchers will get a chance to see one of the most beautiful sights of the year. The Leonids began appearing in the sky back on November 3, and they’ll continue until December 2, but if you want to see them at their brightest, you’ll need to head outside this weekend.
The Leonids will peak from Friday, November 17 to Saturday, November 18. The moon will be just 23 percent full throughout the peak, which means it should let you see lots of shooting fireballs across the sky. Scientists currently expect around 10 to 15 meteors per hour, but it’s possible we could see more.
The Leonid meteor shower is always active during this time, and the meteors come from the debris field left by a comet known as 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. This comet is roughly the size of Manhattan, The Smithsonian Magazine says, and every 33 years or so the Leonids meteor shower becomes a “meteor storm,” dropping at least 1,000 meteors per hour into our atmosphere.
The most recent meteor storm struck in 2002, so we aren’t expected to see another until 2035. However, scientists believe that an especially active storm could occur in 2099. Though many of us probably won’t be around to see it.
Even during an average year, though, the Leonids meteor shower is still a spectacular sight, and one that skywatchers won’t want to miss out on as they take their eyes to the sky this coming weekend. The meteors have also been known to be colorful, as they contain several elements like iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Make sure to head outside between November 17 and 18 to enjoy the full spectacle of the Leonid meteor shower. The best time to spot them will be in the early morning hours starting on November 17, and you’ll want to check before dawn on November 18 for another great view.