Leonid Meteor Shower To Put On A Spectacular Light Show In The Skies This Weekend
As we get ready to close out the year, the Leonid meteor shower is going to reach its peak tomorrow morning, November 18th. While the shower might end up being a bit of a quieter one, there is still the opportunity to see a handful of meteors every hour while taking in the gorgeous night sky in all its glory.
The Leonids, which peak in mid-November every year, originate from the Constellation Leo and have been active since November 3rd this year, and go through December 2nd. At the peak, which is expected to be around 1 am EST, one could spot around 15 meteors per hour clipping along at 44 miles per second according to NASA. While this is a far cry from a Leonid meteor storm, where one could spot up to 1,000 meteors per hour, which happened last in 2002, it should be quite the viewing experience nonetheless.
Insofar as viewing the Leonids this year, find a place far enough away from city lights and other ambient light sources, perhaps using Dark Site Finder, and get cozy. When we say get cozy, a sleeping bag or some blankets would be a good investment, as temperatures could dip quite a bit tonight, depending on where you are. Then, to get oriented, Night Sky on iOS or Star Walk 2 on Android are good options that let you line up your phone and point you in the right direction.
Once you are in the right direction, if you are taking photos with a camera, drop your aperture to as low as it can go (usually from f/2.8-f/5.6), set the shutter speed to around 20-30 seconds, and start playing around. If you are only on a phone, dropping the exposure and grabbing a timelapse might be the best option to show the most detail overall.
While the Leonids are an annual event, they serve as a good excuse to get outside and admire the heavens above. This allows us to pause and realize that there is much more than the individual—we are but just a spec of dust in a vast realm whose woes only last a moment of time in infinity, facing tomorrow yet to come and turning from the day that was.