Tonight is the peak of the annual Leonid meteor shower. Skies will be clear, but unfortunately, the moon is just past full and up all night. Its brilliant light will overwhelm the faintest of the night's "shooting stars."  And astronomers are not expecting anything like the Leonid "storms" many people were privileged to witness between 1999 and 2002. It's likely to look more like the more typical Leonid showers, with 10 to 15 meteors per hour. The best times to look for them are from 11 p.m. through the early morning hours. Here are some viewing tips.

Leonid meteors occur each year as the Earth, in its annual journey around the sun, passes through the dust trail left by the Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. The dust grains enter the atmosphere at high speed - 44 miles per second- and flare as they heat the air around them and vaporize. More than half will leave persistent trails. The shower, such as it is, will continue for the next few nights, with diminishing intensity. Good luck, and dress warmly.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement