Stay up late and you might believe that Aliens are arriving in drones. However, read an astrology newsgroup and find out that the night sky will be lit up in the early hours of Tuesday morning hosting the Leonid meteor shower.
The annual event, named for the constellation Leo, is a light show of comet crumbs caught up in the Earth’s gravitational pull as the planet swings through the debris field.
Discovered in 1865, the Tempel-Tuttle comet orbits the sun every 33 years, and it’s around this time every year that the Earth passes through the cometary debris. Every year at this time it happens — with tons of ice and rock vaporizing in the earth’s protective atmosphere. The last time it came by was in 1998. In 1991, 2001 and 2002, the Earth passed through concentrated dust trails, which produced a meteor storm with thousands of meteors per hour. The number of meteors this year will be above average.
According to NASA and space related newsgroups, the best time to see the most activity will be between the hours of 3:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. EST. The shower should produce a “mild but pretty sprinkling” of meteors over North America (20 to 30 meteors per hour) followed by a more intense outburst over Asia, where observers may see 200 to 300 meteors per hour.