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This week, Starwatch is some advance warning for next week’s peak of the Leonid meteor shower. The shower is under way now as it lasts from 6 to 30 November. The peak activity this year is expected in the early morning of 17 November.

The chart shows the view from London at midnight as 16 turns into 17 November. From Sydney, Australia, Leo will rise a few hours later. The Leonids take their name because they appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Leo, the lion. The radiant is situated just under the head of the lion, but do not look directly at it when searching for the shooting stars. The meteors, instead, appear in all directions around the radiant, so keep scanning the skies around this location.

The meteors are best seen from the darkest location you can find but this year the light from a waxing gibbous moon will interfere, washing out some of the fainter meteors. Under perfectly dark conditions with no moon, you can expect to see about 10-15 meteors an hour. This year, the numbers will be in single figures but do not let that discourage you, patience is the key. A single bright meteor can make a memory that lasts a lifetime.


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