With most of the year's meteor showers behind us, the Leonid meteor shower is on its way.
The famous Leonids are expected to peak on Nov. 17 in the pre-dawn hours. These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion.
"Many Leonids are also bright. Usually, the meteors are white or bluish-white, but in recent years some observers reported yellow-pink and copper-colored ones," according to the website.
One of the 10 cool things to know about the Leonids, from Space.com: "Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris..."
This shower is called the Leonid shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. But they are really much closer to Earth than these stars are. The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backwards question mark.
The Leonids has been called, some years, a "meteor storm" (rather than just a "shower"), but reports say this year will be limited to "at best 10 to 15 meteors per hour." The last Leonid storm, with thousands of shooting stars per hour, was in 2002.
A report, from MSNBC says there is a reason this year's display is a bit different: "Two peaks of activity, one on Saturday morning and another on Tuesday morning (Nov. 20)."
What's a meteor? It's the streak of light that we see when a meteoroid enters Earth's atmosphere. The Leonids usually contain many bright meteors with trails that can be seen for several minutes.
Fireballs may be seen with the naked eye.
The shower began November 17. To see the Leonids, lie outside in a dark place between midnight and dawn. Point your feet east and look carefully.