Tonight's Meteor Shower Will Fill the Sky With Colorful Shooting Stars — Here's How to See It

Stargazers can expect peak activity around midnight.

Temperatures across the U.S. may be plummeting, but winter’s night-sky activity is heating up — starting with this week’s Leonid meteor shower peak.

Stargazers can expect peak activity overnight Nov. 17 into Nov. 18. During its peak, you could see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour, according to EarthSky. Some could be particularly bright and colorful, with a chance for fireballs and low-to-the-horizon Earth-grazers.

Starry sky over Hora Mountain in Bayingoleng Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on the early morning of November 17, 2021.

Xue Bing/Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images

 What is the Leonid meteor shower?

First things first: The annual Leonid meteor shower stems from the comet 55P/ Tempel-Tuttle. According to NASA, the meteors travel at speeds of 44 miles per second; they’re among the fastest meteors, and they’re known to produce eye-popping colors.

 Will this year be a strong Leonid meteor shower?

The Leonid meteor shower is annual, but roughly every 33 years, it produces a jaw-dropping display — known as a meteor storm, versus shower — with up to hundreds of thousands of meteors per hour, per NASA.  

We won’t see a meteor-storm level of activity this year, though. The last Leonid meteor storm occurred in 2002, which means we have about another decade before our next big showing.

 What will I see during the Leonid meteor shower this year?

It may not be a storm, but it’s still worth heading out for. The Leonids could see up to 15 meteors per hour during the peak between Nov. 17 and 18.

In addition to “shooting stars,” astro-enthusiasts can keep an eye out for two unique interstellar sights. Fireballs, which feature bright, colorful explosions and tails longer than the typical meteor, are a Leonids signature. Meteors that soar closer to the horizon, known as Earth-grazers, are another potential sight, according to NASA. The Earth-grazer trademark is a vibrant, multi-hued tail.

 When can I see the Leonid meteor shower this year?

The Leonids will peak overnight on Nov. 17 into 18 around midnight. You won’t need telescopes or binoculars to watch the shower, but it is smart to get away from light pollution. Check out our favorite dark-sky destinations for inspiration.

Additionally, look for a viewing spot with wide open views to the sky and horizon. (Think lakes, prairies, or hilltops, for example.) The full shower runs from Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, 2022, and you may be able to catch some soaring meteors on the nights before or just after Nov. 17.

And, according to, we could enjoy a final burst of Leonids activity on Nov. 21, but it will hit around 10 a.m. ET, which means stargazers in Hawai’i, Tahiti, or across eastern Asia will have better meteor-sighting odds.



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