Trying to See the Leonid Meteor Shower From Washington? Here's What to Know


The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak this week.

The meteor shower is expected to peak Thursday night and Friday morning, but could also be visible Friday night and Saturday morning, astronomers said.

Observers in North America will have to wait until midnight or later to catch a glimpse of the Leonids.

While it could be difficult, if not impossible, to see from Washington, there is hope for us.

Locals could catch a glimpse of the shower if they're lucky enough to witness an "Earth grazer," according to An "Earth grazer" is a meteor that scrapes across the upper atmosphere horizontally, creating a bright, slow-burning streak across the sky.

The wondrous but limited Leonid meteor shower is triggered when Earth wanders through debris cast off by the Temple-Tuttle Comet during its 33-year solar orbit.

The Leonids are also fast: Leonids travel at speeds of 44 miles per second, according to NASA, making them some of the fastest meteors.

Every 33 years or so viewers may experience a Leonid storm that can peak with hundreds to thousands of meteors seen per hour depending on the location of the observer. The last Leonid meteor storm took place in 2002, according to NASA.

The shower's name comes from the constellation Leo the Lion, according to EarthSky, because the meteors radiate outward from the vicinity of stars representing the Lion's Mane.

Because of weather conditions, scientists warn that catching the rarefied show in western North America could require moxie and luck.

Cold and dry weather is expected to persist throughout most of Washington at least until this weekend. Hopeful stargazers are encouraged to stay warm and check forecasts should conditions turn for the worst or fortuitously clear the skies.