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Leonid meteor shower peaks: How to see it

Leonid meteor shower peaks: How to see it

The annual Leonid meteor shower peaks late Friday evening.

According to NASA, The Leonids are debris ejected from Comet Tempel-Tuttle as it passes near the sun.

When particles from comets enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, they leave bright streaks across the night sky.

Observers can look directly overhead for a shower of bright meteors that leave a trail that lasts several seconds.

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The 1999 Leonid meteor shower observed at 38,000 feet by the Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign (Leonid MAC) with a 50 mm camera.
(Image: NASA/Ames Research Center/ISAS/Shinsuke Abe and Hajime Yano)

However, the Moon is about 35% full and will dwarf the fainter meteors.

There will be about 15 to 20 meteors per hour in clear, dark skies.

At 1:45 a.m. MT on Nov. 17, NASA's All-Sky Camera at New Mexico State University captured this image of the Leonid meteor streaking across the sky.

At 1:45 a.m. MT on Nov. 17, NASA’s All-Sky Camera at New Mexico State University captured this image of the Leonid meteor streaking across the sky.
(NASA)

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The stream’s name comes from the constellation Leo, the lion, from which its meteors appear to emanate.

Over 100 meteors are recorded in this composite image taken during the peak of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower.

Over 100 meteors are recorded in this composite image taken during the peak of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower.
(Credit: NASA/MSFC/Daniel Moser, NASA Meteoroid Environment Office)

While the moon will rise in the east with Leo around midnight local time, it is better to look at the sky away from the visible point of origin by lying on your back and looking straight up.

Comet Tempel-Tuttle was actually discovered twice independently.

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In December, sky watchers can expect the Geminids and the Ursids.

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