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Look, Up in the Sky!

Leonid meteor, 2009
Leonid meteor, 2009

Want to see a dazzling night-sky show? Bundle up on the night of November 17-18, go outside, and watch for the Leonid meteor showers. They streak by every year at this time at the rate of 15-20 per hour.

Here in the Northeast, the peak period for viewing will be early evening, though the showers will continue for a few hours.

Meteors are also popularly known as “shooting stars” and “falling stars” – streaks of light visible across the night sky. The Leonids originate in the constellation Leo. They occur when cosmic debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle enters the Earth’s upper atmosphere – 30 to 80 miles above the ground – at extremely high speeds, and vaporizes. Almost all of the meteroids are destroyed. The few that do not burn up hit the ground as meteorites.

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