Keep an eye on the sky this month to witness the annual natural phenomenon, the Leonids Meteor Shower. For centuries, earthlings have had the privilege to watch this magnificent light show, and we’re so excited for another year of viewing!
The Leonids were first observed in 1883 and humans have been enjoying the sight ever since. The shower itself is created from debris released from Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle when it orbits the sun. The debris then creates a beautiful meteor shower we get to see in the night sky.
Many people don’t know that the Leonids got their name from their proximity to the constellation 'Leo, the Lion'. This is where it’s said the meteor shower originates. Some even say that it looks as if the shower gives Leo a lion's mane! However, Leo the Lion doesn’t rise in the sky until midnight, so prepare to stay up late if you’d like a chance to see it.
The shower will occur throughout the month of November and will peak on the night of November 16th into the early hours of November 17th. With the moon just two days prior to being full, the fainter meteors from the shower will be difficult to see with the abundant moonlight in the sky. For the best viewing, however, scientists recommend finding a place with little light pollution, preferably in the countryside, to witness this event.
In addition to the Leonids Meteor Shower, late-night stargazers can also look forward to a deep partial eclipse of the Moon on the morning of November 19th. The moon will begin to enter the darkest portion of the Earth’s shadow at around 2:18 am EST. Its midpoint will be at 4:03 am EST and it will reach umbral contact at 5:47 am EST, just an hour before sunrise. Early risers will catch part of the eclipse, and all-nighters will get to see it all!