The Leonid meteor shower is peaking tonight and could offer skygazers around the world the chance to see up to 15 fireballs an hour.
The Leonids are made up of fragments left behind by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. This debris is rich in iron and magnesium, so the Leonids often streak the sky with bright green tails.
The viewing conditions should be “quite favorable” as the moon will be in its first quarter, so it is unlikely to outshine the meteors with its glare, the Royal Museums Greenwich said on its website.
That being said, you might see slightly fewer shooting stars than usual. While NASA states the Leonids usually offer up to 15 fireballs per hour, the Royal Museums Greenwich is slightly less optimistic, as it expects only up to 10 fireballs an hour.
To have the best chance of seeing the brilliant spectacle, head to a dark place away from city lights. Plan to arrive between midnight and dawn, when the shower peaks and the fireballs are the most visible.
Lay on your back looking straight up at the sky. Give your eyes at least 30 minutes to get used to the dark before giving up — many of us will use phones or other screens to get where we need to go, and our brains will need time to get used to looking for fainter streaks in the dark skies.
And make sure to bundle up. Like any excursion in the later months of the year, temperatures are sure to drop, and you’re likely to stay still and exposed to the elements for a long time if you hope to catch a glimpse of the cosmic spectacle.
If you miss this shower, you’ll get another chance in mid-December when the Geminids grace our planet.