Fireworks in July and Leonids in November - bundle up tonight to see this year's celestial performance as shooting stars illuminate the night late Sunday, Nov. 16 through the early morning of Monday, Nov. 17.
The Leonids are temperamental, according to National Geographic, and about every 33 years, they burst into true meteor storms. The last big storm was in 2002 when more than 3,000 meteors fell per hour. The big performance - the one that started the legendary status of Leonids - occurred in 1833 when 72,000 shooting stars fell per hour.
Meteor showers happen when the earth travels though a comet's debris trail. This time, the comet Tempel-Tuttle left its debris after raveling around the sun, according to National Geographic. The proximity to the sun causes ice to melt which releases dust in clumps. When these clumps burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, shooting stars light up the night.
Sometimes a pebble or boulder will create "a brilliant fireball," according to National Geographic. This is where the Leonids outshine meteor showers like Perseids and Orionids.
The best place to see the Leonids are by their namesake, the constellation Leo, in the northeast horizon. The best time would be right before dawn, but try earlier since the waning moon may interfere with optimal visibility.
The best way to view? With the naked eye, according to National Geographic. "Since the meteors can appear to zip across large tracts of the overhead sky, it's best to lie down on a reclining lawn chair back-to-back with an observing buddy so that as a team you can cover almost the entire sky," suggests National Geographic.