The annual Leonid meteor shower is set to reach its peak on Saturday morning, November 18. However, astronomers are predicting a relatively weak display compared to previous years. The International Meteor Organization estimates rates of 10 to 15 meteors per hour, with the best viewing time expected to be in the early morning hours.
While watching the shower is a matter of lying back and looking up at the sky, local light pollution and obstructions may hinder visibility. Nonetheless, the Leonids are known for their incredibly high speeds and bright meteors, even though these dazzling displays may be few and far between this year.
These meteors get their name from their location in the constellation Leo, and they originate from periodic Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Unfortunately, the 2023 Leonids are expected to be less remarkable, with only a scattering of particles from the comet’s orbit. The forecasts suggest rates of around 15 to 20 meteors per hour during the peak time.
Despite this year’s underwhelming display, experts predict that the shower will slowly improve in the upcoming years. The best years of the next Leonid cycle are expected to be in 2034 and 2035, giving stargazing enthusiasts something to look forward to.
For those seeking a more prolific meteor shower, the December Geminids are on the horizon and widely regarded as the best shower of the year. With over 100 meteors per hour, it promises a more spectacular celestial show.
Aspiring astronomers and astrophotographers who want to take advantage of these events can find guides available to help them choose the right equipment. Whether it be binoculars or telescopes, proper gear can enhance the experience and capture breathtaking images of these cosmic phenomena.
So mark your calendars for this weekend’s Leonid meteor shower, and start planning for the upcoming December Geminids. There’s always something mesmerizing happening in the night sky for those who are willing to look up.