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The Leonid Meteor Shower Will Streak Across the Sky in a Dazzling Display This Month

News Astronomy
by Eben Diskin Nov 4, 2020

There’s nothing like looking up at the starry sky to take your eyes off the news cycle. This year, luckily, the Leonid meteor shower will be streaking across the sky from Friday, November 6 through Monday, November 30, and since the moon will be in crescent form, the shower will be highly visible. You should still try to watch from a place with low light pollution, however.

The shower is expected to peak on the evening of November 16 and early morning of November 17, between midnight and dawn. You’ll want to let your eyes adjust to the darkness for 20 minutes before viewing — so give yourself some lead time.

It’s called the Leonid shower because the meteor seems to originate from a point in the Leo constellation. The streaks we see in the sky are caused by particles as small as a grain of sand, which are responsible for the brilliant visuals. When the cometary debris enters Earth’s atmosphere at 43 miles per second, the debris is vaporized, resulting in the streaks.

The Leonid shower is one of the faster and brighter annual showers, producing a prolific number of meteors, so if you’re going to catch one shower this year it should probably be this one.

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