Leonid meteor streaking across sky as seen from Montauk Point, New York (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
One of the more prolific meteor showers to hit the Earth every year, the Leonids, will be peaking early Saturday morning at around 3 a.m. While it isn't the most intense of all of the meteor showers, the peak of the Leonids favors North Americans, and the fact the moon isn't particularly bright makes this meteor shower one that should be worth watching.
You can view a NASA live stream of the meteor shower here, or through UStream.
The Leonid meteor shower is the result of cosmic debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which orbits our sun every 33 years, burning up in our Earth's atmosphere. At around 1 a.m. EST on Saturday, November 17, morning the Earth will begin heading into the debris field, causing the frequency of meteors in the sky to increase.
At that point, the only debris from Tempel-Tuttle that will not collide with our Earth's atmosphere will be those traveling in front of the Earth at a velocity of more than 18.5 miles per second. This will culminate in a peak at 3 a.m. EST, which could provide up to 20 meteors an hour.
For those looking to get the best view in real life, meteor shower watchers should head away from large cities and other sources of light pollution. The moon will not be giving off too much light since it is a crescent, so allow your eyes to adjust for 20 minutes to the night sky in order to make sure meteors don't slip under your radar. Also, be sure to bring plenty of warm clothing and some munchies to make sure you don't have to leave your astronomical outpost.
The Leonids are expected to deposit up to 15 tons of cosmic debris onto the Earth.
If you happen to take any amazing snapshots or footage of the Leonids, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org