Leonid meteor shower peaks Friday, Saturday

Photo: Courtesy of NASA Images

Get ready for another sky show: the Leonid meteor shower is coming to a sky near you this month.

Sky and Telescope says viewers will see 10-20 meteors per hour on the shower's peak night, Saturday, November 17, 2017.

Visibility should be good this year thanks to a new moon close to the shower's peak, which means the bright light of the moon won't interfere with viewing--the darker the skies during a meteor shower, the better.

The shower peaks on Saturday, but if that night doesn't work for you, meteors will be visible a few days both before and after the peak. The Astronomy CLub of Asheville recommends watching between midnight and 4 a.m. on Friday and/or Saturday morning.

To watch, pick out a spot with dark skies and clear views of the horizon, ideally in all directions. Your own back yard will do in a pinch, but a place away from city lights is best. The Asheville Astronomy Club likes these dark sites in the Asheville area.

Dress for November weather, and pack water, snacks and hot drinks if you like. Lie down on a blanket or lie back in a camp chair, let your eyes adjust to the darkness, and enjoy the show.

The meteors of the Leonids are the leavings of Comet Temple-Tuttle, which leaves small pieces of debris--usually the size of grains of sand or peas--in its wake. When the Earth's orbit sweeps our planet over the comet's trail, some of the little comet-bits enter our atmosphere, and burn up as shooting stars.

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