Clear skies bring perfect weather for the Leonid meteor shower tonight

A cold air mass arrived from Canada last night and will provide our region with clear skies for the next couple of days. This is great timing for another meteor shower, one of the last of the year. We still have the Geminids about a month from now as well.

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Tonight’s meteor shower is called the Leonids. It’s not one of the major meteor showers of the year because the numbers are quite low. However, with clear skies, it’s worth a look if you enjoy seeing “shooting stars.”

Comet Dust
The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. Like most of these meteor showers there is a range when they occur. This one happens between the 6th and 30th of the month, but peaks tonight into early Wednesday morning.

Best Late At Night
Although meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, the best part of the sky to see then is from the constellation Leo. The image below gives a good idea where to look tonight. Unlike some events, I would not recommend driving far to this one. The meteors are not as concentrated as say the Geminds or Perseids, and therefore you could end up wasting a lot of time for not a great show.


Moon A Factor Early
Although skies are clear, we do have a small issue early with the moon. The moon is setting in the western sky around 10 p.m. This is good news if you are out later because the moon won’t interfere at all after that.


Back in 2001, the Leonids produced a lot more meteors. This is because about every 33 years they have a cyclonic peak. During the peak hundreds of meteors can be seen. We are just about halfway to the next peak. This meteor shower is unique because of the cyclical peak.

Darkness Required
Remember, you need to get somewhere dark to see these events. Those of you living inside Route 128 likely have too much light pollution to see all but the brightest of these. If you live outside Route 495 you have a better chance of seeing them. If you are reading this from other parts of the country the same rules hold.

Eyes take about 15 minutes to fully adjust to the darkness so give yourself some time before looking up. A warm blanket laying on the ground is the best way to avoid a stiff neck!

You’ll want to dress warmly whether you headed up to the observatory or observing them yourself. Temperatures are going to rapidly cool from the highs only in the mid to upper 40s this afternoon. By the time midnight arrives nearly all areas will have fallen into the upper 20s. Even in Boston temperatures should be nearing freezing.

Nice Weather Continues Tomorrow
Tomorrow looks like a great day with abundant sunshine and seasonable temperatures. We have some much-needed rain arriving Thursday afternoon and continuing overnight. The Friday morning commute looks to be impacted the most.

Colder air arrives for the weekend with highs by Sunday once again struggling to reach the 40s.

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