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The Leonids are one of the best meteor showers skywatchers can catch. Every November, observers can expect peaks of 10 to 15 an hour. Occasionally, the display turns sublime: every 33 years or so, there have been instances of the Leonids producing meteors at a rate of about 1,000 – or more – in an hour. However, this won't happen again until 2034.
The 2017 Leonid meteor shower will peak early Friday, Nov. 17, at 3 a.m. EST (0800 GMT). One day later, on Saturday, Nov. 18, the moon will be in its "new" phase, making it extra dark for spotting meteors. Our columnist Joe Rao tells you what to expect.
See our full guide here:
The particles appear to emanate from the constellation Leo in the Northern Hemisphere. The source of the meteor shower is Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which is falling apart as it makes periodic runs around the sun and its ices melt from the heat. As Earth runs into the vast number of particles it leaves behind, meteors streak through the atmosphere.
NASA - Leonid - Meteors - Bright - Colorful
NASA classifies the Leonid meteors as bright, colorful, and "some of the fastest meteors out there." A typical speed for a fragment is about 44 miles (71 kilometers) per second. The meteors take place through much of November, but come to their best at about the middle of the month.
The meteor shower can also produce fireballs, which are a much brighter sort of meteor that can leave a streak of color that lingers for several seconds. The fireballs originate from much bigger chunks of cometary stuff, which produces the extra fireworks in the sky. Earthgrazer meteors, or meteors that streak close to the horizon, are also possible.
Leonids - Trains - Wake
"The Leonids are white or bluish white, many are faint, though can appear outstandingly bright, leaving glowing trains in their wake," wrote...
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