The Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend!

Pat Wise
November 18, 2018

The Leonid meteor peaks Saturday night under a mostly clear sky, but don't count on seeing a plethora of streaks across the sky. The dust spreads out along the comet's orbit, and every November Earth runs into this stream. It's one of the most significant and visible showers, along with the Perseids and the Orionids, which took place this year in August and October respectively.

The meteors appear to fly away from a point located within the Sickle of Leo (hence the name "Leonids"). While the meteors radiate from the the constellation Leo, you don't need to look in its direction to see the meteors; simply look up! Be sure to check online to see when it will be visible in your part of the world.

Sutherland says that when these pebbles hit the Earth's atmosphere, they produce very bright meteors in the night sky, known as fireballs.

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Here is the Weather Channel Birmingham hourly forecast for Sunday morning when the Leonids are expected to be most visible (be mindful, watch for the meteor show 10-15 miles outside of Birmingham to avoid light pollution). The peak of the shower stretches from midnight through dawn Sunday, but you're best chance of seeing a meteor will be closer to Sunday morning. Although such an event has been associated with the Leonid meteor shower before, the last storm event happened in 2001.

The best way to view this phenomenon is to bundle up in cozy sweaters and blankets, lie back on a lawn chair, and keep your eyes peeled to the sky - but don't just stare at one spot! If you want to photograph the Leonid meteor shower, NASA suggests using a camera with manual focus on a tripod with a shutter release cable or built-in timer, fitted with a wide-angle lens.

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