It will be a bad year for one of the most famous meteor shower Leonids .
This year, the Leonids, which reach their peak on Monday morning (November 18th), are likely to be a major decline for two reasons. The shower itself is expected to be soft and there will be a moon that blurs illuminating the front sky.
The soul of Leonid is one of the most famous of the annual meteoric events. The name acknowledges that the ray point of the soul, from which the meteors seem to loosen, is within the sickle, the model of the star with the opposite sign in the constellation of Leo (hence Leonidy), which marks the head and mane of the lion.
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This meteor shower is caused by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which passes through the inner solar system every 33.3 years. Each time the comet makes its closest passage to the sun, the traveler leaves a stream of space detritus in his wake. This dense trace of dust debris can cause a more dramatic meteor storm if the Earth strikes directly on the fresh dust trail thrown from the comet.
But the comet does not have to pass through the internal solar system until 2031, so this year the Leonids are expected to show only low activity, ideally from 10 to maybe 15 meteors per hour.
This year, the Leonids will also be outsourced from the moon. As the showers peak during the previous hours on Monday, November 18, the moon will be right in the next door, only 20 degrees, which is equivalent to two clenched fists held at arm's length.
How to Observe and What to Look for
If you want to try to catch Leonid despite the poor prognosis, here's what to do. Go outside, lie down, look up at the sky … and wait. In addition to reporting on this year's handicap of the bright moon illuminating the sky, keep in mind that any local light pollution or obstacles such as tall trees or buildings will further diminish your chances of seeing a meteor . Leo doesn't fully enter sight after midnight, so this is the time to set your alarm.
Not all is bad news for this year's shower. As the Leonids orbit the sun in a direction opposite to that of Earth, they collide into our atmosphere almost with our heads, resulting in the fastest meteor speeds possible: 45 miles (72 kilometers) per second. Such speeds tend to produce vivid meteors that leave long-lasting streaks or vapors on trains.
A healthy Leonid fireball can be quite spectacular, bright enough to attract attention even in bright moonlight. But such extremely bright meteors are likely to be very few and far between this year .
And so, here's the bottom line: If you plan on grinding a cold-blooded morning in mid-November and sky, moon for a chance to glance at just a few Leonids, you have to get a reward for your dedication – and just plain spin.
Joe Rao serves as instructor and guest lecturer at the New York Planetarium . He wrote about astronomy for magazine. Natural History for the Farmers' Almanac and other publications, and is also a meteorologist on the Verizon FiOS1 News in the New Hudson Valley in York. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook .