The supermoon is not the end of cosmic spectacle; there is more to come. Another impressive display is in the offing in the form Leonid meteor shower. Later tonight or in the early hours tomorrow, the Leonid meteor shower will peak as the Earth passes through the tail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which is composed of millions of tiny particles of ice and other debris which the comet leaves behind as it nears the sun which disintegrates the comet as it orbits near it.
The small fragments of dust and ice in the comet’s wake will burn with a flash as it collides with the Earth’s atmosphere. The greatest rate will happen late in the night sky and early morning and could be anywhere between 10 to 15 meteors per hour.
Half of these Leonids will leave a trail behind as they burn and if you want to make a wish, tonight is the best opportunity. The timing is perfect for unhindered viewing in the US and in particular for residents in the central and western regions. However, the hangover of the supermoon and the bright glow of the waning moon could hinder the sight.
Leonids are one of the best-known meteor showers and are responsible for some of the most spectacular meteoric outbursts which humans have ever witnessed. The peak of this meteor shower occurs once every 33 years when a particularly dense cluster of thick Temple-Tuttle debris crosses the Earth’s path. One such heavy outburst of meteor shower took place in 2001 when there were more than 1000 meteors shooting across the sky in one hour. Another notable year when some 2000 meteors glowed across the heavens was in 1966. However this year it will be moderate one with only 20 meteors per hour.