The Leonids meteor shower, one of the most spectacular celestial events of the year, is peaking tonight. If you live in northern New Jersey, you have a good chance of catching a glimpse of the shooting stars, as the weather is favorable for stargazing.
According to the National Weather Service, the skies will be mostly clear across Sussex, Passaic, and Morris counties, with temperatures forecasted to reach the lower 30s. The waxing crescent moon will set early, leaving the sky dark and ideal for meteor watching.
The Leonids are named after the constellation Leo, where the meteors appear to radiate from. However, you don’t need to know the exact location of the radiant point to enjoy the show. Just find a dark and secluded spot away from the city lights, dress warmly, and lie down on the ground. Look at the sky and wait patiently for the meteors to appear. You can use a phone app such as Star Walk to pinpoint the exact location, though be aware that your phone’s screen may prevent your eyes from adjusting to the darkness.
The Leonids are known for producing intense meteor storms every 33 years, when the Earth passes through the densest part of the debris trail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The last major storm occurred in 1966, when thousands of meteors per minute were observed. The next one is expected in 2034.
This year, the Leonids are not expected to be as spectacular, but they can still offer a beautiful display of up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour under dark and clear skies. The peak of the shower is predicted to be at 12:33 a.m. EST. The shower will be active until November 30.