One of the year’s major meteor showers will peak this weekend, and viewing conditions figure to be pretty good, clouds permitting.
Also visible tonight, the Leonids will reach maximum activity Saturday night, according to the American Meteor Society website, which lists it as one of the year’s nine Class I (major) showers.
Unlike some recent showers, including the Draconids in October and the Perseid shower in August, the moon will accommodate the Leonids well; the peak coincides with a new moon Saturday, meaning much less light interference and more visible meteors and stars.
Space.com reports that stargazers with optimal viewing conditions will see about 10 to 15 meteors per hour – on the low side, as far as major showers go – passing near the Leo constellation, the shower’s namesake.
North American viewers are advised to look east between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time. The meteors will be visible all over the world, according to Vox.
Clear weather is always key when it comes to stargazing, as clouds will spoil the party. The forecast for Sacramento tonight is clear, and for Saturday is mostly sunny, according to The Weather Channel.
The Leonids are made by the debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to Vox.
If you’re waiting for a (much) better show surrounding the same constellation, it’ll be a while. The Leonids come as a massive storm every 33 years, with as many as 500 to 1,000 meteors visible per hour, according to Space.com. The next “swarm” isn’t until 2034.