Your annual mid-November meteor treat is coming. On Friday night and Saturday morning (Nov. 17-18), the Leonid meteor shower will peak. The Earth passes through the debris field left by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle every year.
The Leonids appear to come from Leo the Lion in the east, but they should be visible across the sky. Leonids have been active since Nov. 3 and will continue until Dec. 2.
To see the shower's climax, "watch late on the night of November 17 until dawn on November 18," EarthSky's Deborah Byrd advised. "The morning of November 17 might be worthwhile, too."
The meteors are pea- and sand-sized dust and debris from the Tempel-Tuttle comet as it passes Earth. Earth orbits directly through the debris track. Dust and particles ignite in our atmosphere.
“Comets orbit the sun and leave dust behind,” said Lowell Observatory postdoctoral researcher Theodore Kareta in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Our atmosphere burns up cometary dust as the Earth crosses one of these dust trails, causing meteor showers.
Where to look, when to look, and whether a meteor shower is beautiful or a dud depend on how much dust is in the trail, at what angle the Earth crosses it, and what time of year.
“Look east from a dark sky location. Kareta suggested national forests, state parks, and other remote areas.
He advised giving your eyes time to acclimate before seeing meteors with your bare eyes. "Some meteors are faint, so give yourself 20–30 minutes to adjust to low light and find a dark place to watch the night sky."