Keep an eye on the night sky this week if you want to witness the spectacular Leonid meteor shower.
The space debris is expected to crash into the Earth’s atmosphere dozens of times every hour when the phenomenon peaks in the early hours of Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Skywatching experts say that the best time to see the annual mid-November show will be between midnight and dawn. NASA reports that a waxing crescent moon should mean the skies will be dark enough to clearly view the display. Let’s just hope it’s not too cloudy.
As always, the best place to watch is said to be away from city light, preferably in a rural location with little light pollution. Since the eye can take up to 45 minutes to adapt to the dark, USA Today advises skywatchers to be patient so that the falling stars become brighter to them as the night wears on.
The shower is made up of tiny sand-sized bits of dust that crumble off the Tempel-Tuttle comet as it passes the Earth. The particles ignite when they hit our atmosphere.
The Leonid meteor shower has sometimes turned into a severe storm, giving off an even more incredible display, but it’s not expected to do so this year, according to EarthSky.org.
Skywatchers in Asia and the Middle East will have the best chance of viewing the meteor shower after midnight on Tuesday, while those in North and South America, Europe and Africa will have a better view the following day.
And if you don’t get to experience the shower over the next couple of days, don’t worry. Scientist Rhiannon Blaauw of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office says that the shower will continue, albeit not as sensationally, until the end of the month.
“You can see Leonids anytime between now and November 30 by going outside during a clear dark night … sometime between 3 a.m. and dawn, letting your eyes adjust to the dark and taking in as much sky as possible (no telescopes/binoculars),” Blaauw told Weather.com.