The Leonid meteor shower 2012 peak will be here in a matter of hours, and the weather forecast couldn't be much better: Clear skies above with temperatures that are expected to be chilly but not brutal.
This year, look for about 15 meteors each hour. Along with clear skies, the weather forecast for Waukee calls for temperatures of about 36.
The Leonids occur over Iowa every year about this time, when Earth glides through a trail of dust left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. This shower follows some nice shows: the Taurid Meteor Shower, earlier this month, and the spectacular Perseid Meteor Shower, which wowed gazers in August.
MORE LEONID METEOR SHOWER INFORMATION:
- The No. 1 tip is to find an area that isn't impacted by light pollution. A great little spot to see the shower is in Centennial Park near the bridges and away from street lights. Lie down, point your feet east and look carefully. Space.com has more tips for watching the Leonids.
- These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion.
- One of the 10 cool things to know about the Leonids, from Space.com: "Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris..."
- This shower is called the Leonid shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. But they are really much closer to Earth than these stars are. The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backwards question mark.
- The Leonids has been called, some years, a "meteor storm" (rather than just a "shower"), but reports say this year will be limited to "at best 10 to 15 meteors per hour." The last Leonid storm, with thousands of shooting stars per hour, was in 2002.
- A report, from MSNBC says there is a reason this year's display is a bit different: "Two peaks of activity, one on Saturday morning and another on Tuesday morning (Nov. 20).
- Fireballs may be seen with the naked eye.