Head out in the early morning and check out the Leonid Meteor Shower

What is the Leonid meteor shower?

The Leonid meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that reaches its peak in mid-November. It is one of the major meteor showers and can be easily observed even by those who are not experienced in meteor hunting. The parent body of the Leonids is Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The meteors appear to originate from the constellation Leo, which is where their radiant point is located.

Unlike the Taurids, which are also visible in November, the Leonid meteors are very fast. They travel at a speed of 71 kilometers per second, which is more than 200 times faster than a rifle bullet. As they streak across the sky, they leave behind a long blue-green trail. These trails, known as vapour trains, can linger in the sky like enormous wisps of smoke.

How to observe the Leonid meteor shower in November 2023?

In 2023, the Leonids are expected to produce around 10-15 meteors per hour during their peak on November 16-17. The conditions for observing the meteor shower this year are favorable, as the waxing crescent Moon will only be 29% illuminated and won’t interfere with the observations.

When can you see the Leonid meteor shower?

The Leonid meteor shower is active from November 6 to 30, with its peak occurring on November 16-17. The best time to observe the meteors is from midnight to dawn local time, when the radiant in the constellation Leo is high in the sky.

Where to look for the Leonids?

The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Leo, which is the point from where the Leonids appear to originate. However, it is not necessary to focus solely on this constellation. It is better to keep as much of the night sky in view as possible. The meteors that are farther from the radiant will have longer tails, making them easier to spot and more visually appealing in photographs. If you would like a reference point, you can use the one of the various astronomy apps or the attached Star chart to find the location of the Leonids radiant:

– Open one of the apps and search for “Leonids.

– Point your device towards the sky so that the image on the screen aligns with the real sky above you. Follow the arrow to determine the current location of the Leonids’ radiant in the sky.