The “potentially dangerous” asteroid monster will fly close to Earth

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 at 5:24 PM


Jason Lemon for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If you are looking for a shooting star to make your wish come true, this weekend may be your chance.

The Leonid meteor shower reached this weekend, providing ideal viewing conditions for millions of people across the United States. With clear skies forecasted by meteorologists in many parts of the country, even observers of amateur stars should be able to glimpse the cosmic spectacle.

>> Read more news about trends [19659004] Experts say that 10 to 25 shooting stars will be visible per hour in areas with clear skies this Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, according to the Smithsonian. Even for the unfortunate, such a high number gives anyone the chance to see one of the meteors.

For those who want to see the shower this weekend, here is everything you need to know:

7 Fun facts about meteorites

What is Leonid meteor shower?

Leonid meteorites are connected to Comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather.

"makes frequent pbades through the inner solar system," he said. "This sets new debris in the path of Earth's orbit every 33 years."

The Earth actually pbades through the comet's remains, making visible the particles that fall as they burn in the atmosphere. Thanks to the clear skies and the absence of moonlight, this year's exhibit should give astronomers a decent show.

Where will the meteor shower be most visible?

First of all, astronomers should get as far away from the city lights as possible to avoid light pollution. There is no specific place in the sky to look at. But the shooting stars get their name from the constellation of Leo, since their paths in the sky go back to those stars.

Peak time to see is 2 a.m. at 4 a.m. ET on Saturday.

People who live throughout the Southeast, Northern Plains and California are in luck, as forecasters predict clear skies, ideal for watching the shower.

Those who reside in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, the Central Plains or the Pacific Northwest, however, have to travel to other areas if they want to detect a falling star.

"A large storm system will move from the Plains to the Great Lakes, and cloudy skies are forecast to dominate much of the eastern half of the nation," meteorologist Kyle Elliot said, according to Accuweather. "Rain and storms will further affect the observation conditions in many of these areas."

The rain will be more visible, with the highest rates of visible meteors in East Asia.

How intense can a Leonid shower get?

While this weekend's exhibition is sure to impress, it's actually considered a meteor shower, unlike a meteor storm. The last Leonid meteor storm took place in 2002. During storms, thousands of meteors can be detected in one hour.

In 1833, stargazers reported up to 72,000 shooting stars per hour, according to National Geographic. In 1966, a group of hunters reported seeing 40 to 50 streaks per second for 15 minutes.

Scientists currently predict that the next major outbreak will not take place until 2099. But calculations suggest that the comet will return closer to Earth in 2031 and 2064, which means that more intense storms can be seen earlier. Smaller showers, like the one that happens this weekend, happen regularly.

So, while you may get another chance to see the shooting stars of Leonid, this weekend promises to be a great opportunity for many.

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