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The 2019 Leonid Meteor peaked at the end of this week. Here's how to watch it



A Leonid was caught at intervals


That Leonid looking to turn it on again this weekend, like meteor showers do every mid-November. But this year could come with fewer "shooting star" activities on Friday nights in America and Saturday mornings in Europe.

Leonid meteor showers occur every year when our planet passes through the debris cloud left by comet 55P / Tempel-Tuttle. The shower is active for much of November, but really becomes visible when it reaches its peak this weekend. Unfortunately, the moon is also set to be around 80 percent full, possibly removing some of the estimated 15 meteors per hour.

The Leonids are usually fast falling stars, moving at 44 miles / sec (71 kilometers / sec), making them bright and sometimes colorful with paths that are often persistent in the night sky.


The 1999 Leonid meteor explosion captured from above by NASA

NASA / Ames / ISAS / Shinsuke Abe and Hajime Yano Research Centers

Every 33 years or more, the Leonids produce a meteor storm, when the earth passes through a bag of very dense debris that produces more than 1,000 meteors per hour. The effect is described as a meteor that appears like rain. Although we will not see storms in 2019, Russian astronomer Mikhail Maslov predicts the possibility of "increased activity" on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

According to Maslov's calculations, hourly rates can reach 20 to 27 meteors between around dusk and midnight Friday on the US West Coast.

The true peak of the Leonids comes the following night, which means the whole weekend can be good for trying to observe this meteor shower. To catch it, you might as well go as far away from the city lights as possible and find a place with a wide open night sky view. Lie down and let your eyes adjust. Be sure to tie if it's cold, then relax and watch patiently.

If you miss it or the weather doesn't cooperate, there is another big meteor event that will come next week when Unclear Alpha Monocerotids can produce meteor storms on thursday night. Raise your eyes!

Initially published November 15, 10:56 a.m. PT.

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