Spectators are hoping the skies will cooperate as the Leonid meteor shower reaches its actual peak on November 17 at 3 a.m. EST. The weather may be unpleasantly cold but the skies ought to be clear for a fantastic view of this year's meteor shower over Des Plaines.
The 2012 Leonid meteor shower, similar to all of the other meteor showers, will be noticeable for a couple of nights before and after its peak time. A moonless sky may increase the meteor shower's clear view. If the moon has already set at the peak time, its dazzling radiance will not wash out the Leonid meteor shower's visibility.
The Leonid meteor shower is well-known for causing massive number of meteor storms over the centuries. Though no meteor storm has been predicted for 2012, Leonid is still expected to supply a spectacular meteor shower since there is also no moon interference with them this year.
According to Astronomy.com, these meteors travel around 40 miles per second and can leave behind trails of smoke. Also, Space.com stated: "Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris."
For some years now, the Leonids have been coined as a meteor storm rather than a meteor shower. However, reports suggest that this year will only be limited to at least 10-15 meteors per hour. The last Leonid storm, with thousands of shooting stars per hour, was back in 2002.
Meanwhile, MSNBC reports the Leonid meteor shower display will have two peaks of activity. "One is on Saturday morning and another on Tuesday morning (November 20). Fireballs may be seen with the naked eye."