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Leonids meteor shower to peak around midnight Tuesday
Image of a Leonid meteor shower. - photo by Natalie Crofts
The annual Leonids meteor shower is about to peak.

Sometime around midnight Tuesday the show of speedy meteors will reach its most active period of about 15 meteor sightings per hour, according to NASA.

A waxing-crescent moon will set before midnight, leaving dark skies to view these bright and colorful meteors, a description on NASAs website reads. Dedicated observers with a telescope may wish to watch the Moon's earthlit night side for flashes due to Leonid meteoroid impacts on its night-side hemisphere.

While the best viewing time for the Leonids is late Tuesday night or early Wednesday, the shower has been going on since Nov. 6 and will continue through Nov. 30. It reaches its peak every year during mid-November, with special storms featuring hundreds to thousands of meteors occurring every 33 years. The last storm took place in 2002.

The Leonids, which are debris from the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle comet, are some of the fastest known meteors, according to NASA. Researchers said the meteors are bright and often colorful, streaking across the sky at speeds of 44 miles per hour.

Leonids are also known for their fireballs and earthgrazer meteors, NASAs website states. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3. Earthgrazers are meteors that streak close to the horizon and are known for their long and colorful tails.

To check viewing conditions in your area, use NASAs online Fluxtimator.
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