The Leonids Meteor Shower, named for the constellation Leo, is always a show — but this year is especially spectacular. There’s only one catch: The show will be a little more spectacular than usual, because the comet ISON is en route to Earth. This gives a reason for those gorgeous satellite trails to be brighter this year, and a chance to witness that dazzling streak from your backyard. In a total eclipse in April, an enormous chunk of the comet — about 1/3 — scorched the Earth’s atmosphere, heating up and surviving to join the rest of the nastiest bits in a streak of gas as seen from Earth.
But that doesn’t make this night a full-on hunt for the comet, unless you happen to catch it before it’s too late. In fact, that’s the whole point. Just enjoy the show. In 2015, the shower peaked in the predawn hours on the night of Aug. 10. That same window in August 2018 should be just as strong. The best time is between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. (1 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET), and you’re basically guaranteed to see a decent-sized number.
If you plan on watching the shower, best get out away from bright light pollution (just look up!) and look to the northern horizon. Midnorthern sky watchers in the northern hemisphere should expect to see the meteors outnumbering the radiant.
Everyone can see the display though! The specific motions of the sun in our night sky make this particular star pattern visible throughout the night. You don’t need to be a snuggly astrophotographer or observant fellow to witness the show though.
If the shower looks, well, boring to you, don’t expect the best views. If you don’t live near a convenient location, whether it’s the direction that the meteors are streaking or the way the meteors are moving, most will fly past you without a second thought. Still, it’s a great way to get in the stargazing spirit.
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: 2018’s Leonids — Overnight
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