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Leonid meteor shower lights up the sky

By Melissa Bell
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Leonid meteors are seen streaking across the winter sky at Rikubetsu on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, Nov. 19, 2001. (Kyodo/Associated Press)

Update: November 18, 8:51 a.m.

If you missed the light show last night, never fear. The meteors will still be shooting through the sky Thursday night and into Friday morning. From reports of star gazers, the best time to see it is after the moon sets. Check out the timings for when the moon goes down here. In Washington, the moon should set around 3:51 a.m. Photographer Jeff Sullivan said the meteors were falling at about a rate of one per minute.

November 17, 11: 25 a.m.

The November meteor extravaganza, the Leonid meteor shower, will peak just before dawn Thursday, but some would-be astronomers may miss the sky show thanks to the moon's interference.

"Light reflecting off a bright moon can be just as detrimental to good meteor viewing as those bright lights of the big city," a NASA blog posting says. "There is nothing you can do except howl at the moon."

The moon does set after midnight, though, so if you can wake up in the middle of the night, the best viewing time will be about 3 a.m. NASA also recommends getting as far away from city lights as possible, not using any binoculars or telescopes, and lying on the ground to watch as much of the sky as possible.

Leonids rain down on earth every year thanks to the Earth's orbit passing the Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. When dust and debris from the comet hit the Earth's atmosphere, streaks of light fill the sky. In 2002, the shower became a full fledged storm with thousands of meteors shooting across the sky each hour. This year, there will likely be about 15 meteors per hour.

By Melissa Bell  | November 17, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

I can't wait to view the meteor shower tonight. I've found a ton of great worldwide viewing information on this site: http://www.spacedex.com/leonids/ - I hope everyone enjoys the show!

Posted by: AllPointsHelp | November 17, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

2001 was a spectacular show too.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 17, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

2001's show was better than 2002. Both were memorable, though.

Posted by: DontWannaMyPostID | November 17, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the few times I wish I had stayed in southern California. We had a great Perseid party here in Oregon last summer, but the rain always washes out Leonids. Say "oooooh" for me tonight, guys!

Posted by: divtune | November 17, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."
- Mark Twain

Keep unaccountable and unenvious. That's Love! Keep titan missiles secure
http://artmodel.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/titian_venus_urbino1.jpg

So “art has its privileges” Thank God!

Posted by: jobandon | November 17, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Saw one 2 nights ago - and close it was amazing and the streak/tail behind it was beautiful. Luckily I live on a farm a good deal away of any cities/towns w/ light pollution. Just bought a very nice telescope. Hopefully can put it to use.

Posted by: fredkreugerjason | November 18, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Saw one 2 nights ago - and close it was amazing and the streak/tail behind it was beautiful. Luckily I live on a farm a good deal away of any cities/towns w/ light pollution. Just bought a very nice telescope. Hopefully can put it to use.

Posted by: fredkreugerjason | November 18, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

telescopes and binocs are useless for meteor watching. you never know where they will show up and even so, they travel so fast you would be very lucky to catch one in a lens. most pics you see are with a camera left open for minutes at a time aimed in the general direction of leo.

Posted by: BRIANSWARTZ | November 18, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

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