Get Ready for Fabulous Shooting Stars

The Leonid Meteor Shower

January 29, 2019
Gemind Meteor Shower
NASA/Alvin Wu

Much attention is being paid to the Leonid meteor shower, which peaks in the wee hours before dawn on Saturday morning, November 18. But it’s like mice that keep following the same maze even though there’s no more cheese at the end. The Leonid have no cheese to give us. Not this year. But not to worry. Coming up soon are the best meteors of 2017.

The Leonids used to produce thousands of meteors! In 1833 and 1966 the Leonids produced storms, where people saw 60 shooting star each and every second! Then in 2001, they delivered the best shower of our lives. Before dawn on November 18, we saw six brilliant green meteors every minute, and all of them left behind glowing trains that lingered like Cheshire Cat smiles.

However, no meteor storm is expected this year, only a modest 10 to 15 Leonid meteors per hour. See the Almanac’s Meteor Shower Calendar.

This year, it’s a new Moon this weekend so moonlight won’t interfere, however, it’s barely worth the bother for a sprinkle. Their next super-show isn’t expected until November 18, 2099.

If you do happen to be awake in those dark hours between 2 and 4 A.M, look towards the northeast. The meteor showers will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo, the lion (hence, the name “Leonids”).

But not to worry. The most famous, brightest meteor shower of the year is very near!  We’re talking about the Geminids on the night of December 13, 2017.  

Last year, they were washed out by a full Moon. This year, the Moon will be absent. Perfect conditions!  They are slow, they start out early in night for a more friendly viewing time, and they should give us a meteor a minute! The Geminid meteors are known for being very bright so mark your calendar. 

More about them in a week or two. But if you can’t wait, read more about the 2017 Geminds here.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe