'Tis the season...for all kinds of space stuff to get incinerated by Earth's atmosphere. The Leonid meteor shower is set to peak on Tuesday and Wednesday, just as the fieryare wrapping up and just days after we caught a piece of going out in a blaze of glory.
While the Taurids, which peaked earlier in November, are known for boasting numerous fireballs, the Leonids are famous for sometimes producing "meteor storms," when over 1,000 meteors per hour can be seen streaking across the night sky. These storms happen about every 33 years. The last one was in 2002, so we've got some time to wait for the next one.
This year's Leonids should provide something more like a paltry 10 to 15 meteors per hour, according to NASA, but the good news is that they are among the fastest meteors around, known for producing dramatic fireballs and earthgrazer meteors of their own. The Leonids are active for much of each November, when the Earth passes through debris left behind by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
To see the Leonids, you don't have to worry about finding the constellation Leo, as they will be visible across the sky. If you have clear skies this week bundle up and head outside around midnight as far away from light pollution as possible. (After midnight should be a good time most places in the world. The key thing is for the moon not to be out.) Allow your eyes to adjust and relax, meteors should be visible until dawn.
If your skies are overcast or you live under a streetlight, you can always watch the shower live via the online Slooh observatory.