The best viewing for this year's Leonid meteor shower will be several hours before dawn on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 17 and 18, according to the editors of StarDate magazine. However, the rising of the half-full moon coincides with the shower and will probably wash out all but the brightest meteors.
A high-resolution image of the Leonid meteor shower is available online at StarDate's Media Center. There, visitors can also sign up to receive advance email notices of future skywatching events.
Though the meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Leo, the lion, they can be seen in all parts of the sky. For the best chance of seeing them, face away from the moon (and Leo) toward the darkest part of your sky.
Leonid meteors are not physically associated with Leo. They are leftover debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle. As the comet orbits the sun, it leaves a trail of debris. The Leonid meteors recur each year when Earth passes through the comet's debris trail, and chunks of the debris burn up in our planet's atmosphere. Chunks that don't burn up completely and hit the ground are called meteorites.
Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.