Brace yourself for 200 bright "shooting stars" an hour as the Leonids meteor shower peaks: What to see in the night sky this week

Brace yourself for 200 bright “shooting stars” an hour as the Leonids meteor shower peaks: What to see in the night sky this week

Every Monday I pick the northern hemisphere (northern mid-latitudes) celestial highlights for the coming week, but be sure check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses, and more.

What to see in the night sky this week: November 14-20, 2022

November is always a good time for stargazing, but this week will be better than most. Along with a chance to see winter’s twinkling bright stars rise in the east as darkness falls, this week sees the climax of the Leonids meteor shower. While it’s not the most productive of a normal year, there are plenty of reasons to get outside and look up this week as it peaks. The Leonids meteor shower is famous for its occasional meteor storm as its peak night coincides with a moonless night sky — something that was rare for meteor shower peaks in 2022. That probably won’t be the case this year, but there’s reason to believe it will be stronger than usual.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022: Last Quarter Moon

Today our natural satellite in space enters its last quarter moon phase, rising around midnight and setting at noon. Not only does this mean you have dark, moonlit skies after midnight for the rest of the week, but you can easily spot a half and moonset in the west in the morning.

Thursday/Friday, 17/18 November 2022: Leonids meteor shower

Just before midnight on Thursday and into the early hours of Friday morning, the Leonid meteor shower’s peak can be seen in the dark, moonless night sky. Illuminated at 36%, the waning crescent moon rises after midnight. Keep your eyes peeled (no binoculars or telescope needed) for the 10-20 shooting stars per hour (a dark sky will help you spot them). This meteor shower is known for bright meteors with sustained trains — meaning you can see some of them glowing for about a second as they zoom through the night sky.

Friday/Saturday, 18/19 November 2022: Leonids meteor shower

Earth may be moving through some streams of Leonid meteors associated with previous meteor storms this year, according to the American Meteor Society. On November 19, experts predict that Earth could break through the same trail of dust that caused a meteor storm in 1733, with a staggering 200 “shooting stars” per hour possible! Others suggest 50 an hour. Either way, get out there and look up!

Sunday, November 20, 2022: Crescent moon near Spica

Before sunrise this morning, a 15% illuminated waning crescent moon – a crescent moon – will rise in the eastern sky just below the star Porrima and 4º above Spica, the bright star in the constellation Virgo. The red supergiant Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes is located to the left of the moon as it rises.

Event of the week: Leonids meteor shower

The Leonids meteor shower, active between November 3 and December 2 each year, is caused by dust and debris left behind in the inner solar system by Comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle. Although they can appear from anywhere, the beam point of the meteors is the constellation Leo.

The times and dates given are for mid-northern latitudes. The most accurate location-specific information can be found in online planetariums such as Stellarium and The sky live. Check Planet Rise/Planet Set, Sunrise sunset and Moonrise/Moonset times where you are

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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