The annual Leonid meteor shower is expected to hit the Earth this year over the night of November 17, when it is expected to peak, and recede from the morning of November 18. This year’s showers are estimated to occur at a rate of 10-15 per hour.
Named after the Leo constellation, from where it was believed to originate, the Leonid meteor shower occurs during the month of November, when the Earth passes the Temple-Tuttle comet during its revolution around the Sun. As they pass, the comet releases dust particles, which then appear as meteors in the night sky. Scientists have estimated that most of the showers have created granular meteors, and even this year, they aren’t expected to hit the Earth’s surface. Also, they have ruled out the possibility of a Leonid storm, which occurs when the rate of showers is around 10,000 per minute.
Last year’s Leonid showers couldn’t be observed due to reflections off the Moon’s surface. This year though, stargazers would find it easy to observe the phenomenon, given that the night of the shower will show a new moon. These showers are best observed away from urban areas, where one can find a clearer view of the night sky. Astronomers recommend observing the meteor shower in national parks or similar undisturbed locations. These showers can be observed with the naked eye, unlike other events like eclipses. Also, predictions have shown that these showers will be visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Stargazers can expect the 2017 Leonid meteor showers to peak at around 3 am EST, i.e., 8 am GMT on November 18. The peak will be in the pre-dawn hours of EST, as per estimates. The 2016 Leonid showers showed activity between November 5 and 30, with the peak activity occurring between November 17 and 18.