Get out your cameras and warm clothes because the wee hours of Tuesday morning is the best viewing time for this year's Leonids meteor shower.
Although peak viewing was at 1:45pm Pacific Time this afternoon with up to 300 meteors per hour, the best viewing for Southern California is expected between midnight tonight and 5am with the maximum number of meteors expected to be around 30 per hour.
The Leonids come from debris from Comet Temple-Tuttle and are so named because they appear against the backdrop of the constellation of Leo. The Earth may pass through enhanced streams of particles during the following afternoon, possibly providing Asia with an even better show, and may make the shower worthwhile to watch again from here between midnight and 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the 18th.
According to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office on a NASA blog, “A remarkable feature of this year’s shower is that Leonids will appear to be shooting almost directly out of the planet Mars.” Now that is worth seeing! Just imagine what ancient peoples would have thought about the Roman God of War suddenly shooting meteors at them.
Leo will rise in the eastern part of the sky as seen from Los Angeles after midnight tonight. Send in your Leonids pics from around town and we'll put them up here on the Wayist blog.