Large US Storm May Obscure View of Leonid Meteor Shower for Over 20 States

Stargazers will have a chance to witness Leonid meteors flash across the November night sky as the peak of the shower is set between midnight and dawn on Nov. 18.

"The Leonid meteor shower arises each year as the Earth passes through bits and pieces left in the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle," Slooh, a community observatory that has connected telescopes to the Internet for public use, said.

"Roughly every 33 years the Leonids become a meteor storm with hundreds or thousands of meteors per hour. The Leonids, in 1966 were very impressive as some reported thousands of meteors per minute," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

Though a meteor storm is not expected this year, stargazers will still be able to see around 15 meteors per hour at its peak.

This meteor shower will be visible at most places across the globe, with the best chance to view the Leonids after midnight in the Northern Hemisphere.

A waxing crescent moon will also be setting before midnight, providing dark skies to see the meteors flash across the sky.

Stargazers who will encounter inclement weather or cloudy skies can view Slooh's live broadcast of the meteor shower starting at 8:00 p.m. EST on Nov. 17.

"A large storm system is expected to encompass most of the United States in cloud cover for the middle of the week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

The clouds will lead to poor viewing conditions for many areas east of the Rockies, including the Ohio and Mississippi valleys.

A separate storm system will bring clouds to the Northwest, resulting in poor viewing conditions across the region, Samuhel stated.

Favorable viewing conditions to see the Leonids will be from Southern California into the southern Plains as clear skies are expected.

The Leonids have been long known as an active meteor shower with one of the most famous meteor storms occurring in 1833. The great Leonid Meteor Storm of 1833 was visible in North America and was said to produce as many as 200,000 meteors per hour, Slooh stated.

It was during this 1833 meteor shower that it became clear to observers and astronomers that meteors came from outside the Earth's atmosphere.

"Until then, some believed meteors were an atmospheric phenomenon, the belief of which lended the term 'meteorology' to the study of the weather," Slooh said.