Leonid meteor shower to peak in wee hours, will require patience

Leonids 2001
In 2001, a meteor from the Leonids streaks across the sky.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The annual Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak late tonight into early Tuesday morning.

But don’t get your hopes up too high. This year’s Leonids may not be as thrilling for sky watchers as they have been in the past.

The 2014 version is expected to lack “any significant activity” with “long stretches when not a single Leonid will be seen,” according to Still, forecasters expect that 10 to 15 meteors will move across the sky each hour.

The Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Netburn explains the Leonids: 


“When the Earth moves through the comet’s orbital path that dusty debris burns up in our atmosphere, causing what looks like shooting stars to streak across the night sky.”

Those wanting to watch should move away from well-lighted areas of the city and turn east, facing  the constellation Leo, according to Natural light from a waning crescent moon may help in seeing the meteors.

If you’d rather curl up and watch at home, Slooh will carry a webcast beginning at 5 p.m. NASA’s webcast begins at 4:30 p.m. and will include a telescope view from the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

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