Catch a Shooting Star

Experts predict as many as 30 meteors per hour over the Americas

By Scott Weber
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 4:10 PM PDT
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Catch a Shooting Star

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Experts predict this will be a good year for the stars to come out. Shooting stars that is.

The Leonid meteor shower, made of debris from the Tempel-Tuttle comet, should peak in the predawn hours of Nov. 17 according to experts. The Moon will be just past new, so it won't interfere with the shower.

"We're predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over the Americas and as many as 200 to 300 per hour over Asia," said Bill Cooke, of NASA's meteoroid environment office. "Our forecast is in good accord with ... work by other astronomers."

Sky-watchers are advised to venture out away from bright city lights between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET to get the best views.

Meteors form when a comet gets close to the sun, releasing melting ice, dust, and debris which fall to earth. Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, in this case the constellation Leo.

For the best views, NASA says you don't need telescopes. Some warm blankets, a cup of hot chocolate, and a sharp eye will do fine.


 

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