Leonid meteor shower 2022 to peak Thursday night

Skywatchers, rejoice! The Leonid meteor shower, an annual mid-November treat, will be coming to a sky near you this week.

The meteor shower is expected to peak on Thursday night and Friday morning, but could also be visible Friday night and Saturday morning, astronomers said.  

The Leonids appear to be coming from the constellation Leo the Lion (hence their name) in the east, but they should be visible all the way across the sky.

The meteors are actually tiny pea- and sand-size bits of dust and debris crumbling off the Tempel-Tuttle comet as it swings by the Earth. (Earth’s orbit takes it straight through the debris trail.) The dust and debris ignites when it hits our atmosphere.

Is a meteor ‘storm’ possible?

According to the American Meteor Society, meteor experts Mikhail Maslov and Mikiya Sato have run calculations and believe the Earth could plow through an older debris trail from the comet this year, potentially upping the number of meteors, AccuWeather reported. 

Onlookers could see 50 to 200 meteors per hour if the calculations made by Maslov and Sato are correct, AccuWeather said. 

Some of the greatest meteor showers ever seen have been the Leonids. In some years, they’ve been a full-fledged meteor “storm.” The 1833 Leonid meteor storm included rates as high as 100,000 meteors per hour, EarthSky said.

The Leonids are also speedy, striking Earth’s atmosphere at 158,000 mph, the fastest of any meteor shower.

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