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Look Up! Here's how to spot the peak of the Leonid meteor shower

Bulgaria Leonid Meteors Shower
Posted at 2:37 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 14:37:16-05

If you're willing to brave the brisk, autumn air tonight, you could be in for an astronomical treat.

The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak in the early morning hours of Friday, with roughly 15 meteors streaking across the night sky per hour, according to NASA.

While the peak is expected overnight tonight, the meteors will be visible through Dec. 2, NASA said.

The meteors, otherwise known as shooting stars (although they are not actually stars), will appear to come from the constellation Leo. Leo will rise in the eastern sky around 11 p.m. local time, and remain in the southeast sky through 4 a.m.

For those who have seen the Leonids in the past, this will be a relatively mild meteor shower. However, every three decades, the Leonids produce an all-out storm, where there could be more than 1,000 meteors shooting across the night sky per hour.

“Viewers in 1966 experienced a spectacular Leonid storm: thousands of meteors per minute fell through Earth's atmosphere during a 15-minute period,” NASA said. “There were so many meteors seen that they appeared to fall like rain. The last Leonid meteor storm took place in 2002.”

Leftover bits from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle produce the annual meteor shower. The comet orbits the sun once every 33 years. The bits of dust and ice left behind from the comet enters the Earth's atmosphere and burn up, causing the object to glow and streak through the atmosphere.