Unfortunately a full moon coincides with this year’s Leonids Meteor Shower making it difficult to see most of the “shooting stars”. 

The Leonids meteor shower is generated from comet Tempel-Tuttle and is active but lasts from 6th to 30th of November. The shower peaks around 8pm on the night of 17th November. The best views are under dark skies after midnight, but the Moon will hinder stargazers this year.

This shower emanates from the constellation Leo.

When and where to look:

If you’d like to give viewing a go in spite of the Moon, try viewing from midnight to early morning, 17th/18th November, above the northern eastern horizon.

Do I Need a Telescope to see a Meteor Shower?

You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see!

It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors will be quite faint so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns? Fingers crossed for a spectacular show!

What is a meteor shower?

Meteors are caused by debris entering Earth’s atmosphere. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand, which burns up in the atmosphere and causes a bright streak of light to appear briefly in our night sky. The debris that causes a meteor can be travelling between 11 to 73 km/second.

A meteor shower is a time when you see lots of “shooting stars”. They are the result of Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or other object that has come into our Solar System and orbited around the Sun.

What is the Moon phase, and will it affect viewing?

The Full Moon will be washing out all but the brightest and boldest meteors, so it might not be worth getting out of bed for this one.

Something interesting

Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the “shooting stars” appear to be coming from. In the case of the Leonids Meteor Shower, the meteors come from the direction of the constellation of Leo. The Leonids go through a 33 year cycle of intensity, with the last of these cycles occurring on in 2001.

More reading:

The International Meteor Organization is a great place to discover more about all things meteors. Check out their Meteor Shower Calendar. You might even like to become a member!

You might like to…

Become a citizen scientist and report meteor sightings! If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), WA’s Fireballs in the Sky team based at Curtin University would love to know! Report your fireball sighting with the International Meteor Organization.

Where's the Best Place to see a Meteor Shower?

You need a good dark night sky for the best view! Choose an Astrotourism Town destination. Happy meteor hunting!