This month, the Leonids Meteor shower will streak across our skies. This year’s Leonids will be suitable for viewing due to an early setting Moon.
The Leonids meteor shower is generated from comet Tempel-Tuttle. The shower peaks on the night of the 17th/18th of November but can be viewed several days either side of the peak. The best views will be under dark skies, after midnight.
This shower emanates from the constellation Leo, which is visible just about everywhere on Earth. For those in norther WA, Orion will be higher in the sky, and may produce clearer meteors.
When to look: From midnight to early morning, 17th/18th November.
Which direction to look: Toward the northern 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 Moon will set well before the optimal viewing time, making this meteor shower perhaps the best of the year!
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.
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! Download the Fireballs in the Sky App and keep your eyes peeled!
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!