Leonid meteor shower to light up skies over UK for two nights

It is one of the more prolific annual meteor showers with fast and bright meteors

George Lithgow
Friday 17 November 2023 04:19 GMT
Leonid meteor shower to kick off the weekend on Nov. 17-18

The Leonid meteor shower will light up the night sky this weekend, treating stargazers to a dazzling display.

The best time to see the spectacle above the UK this year will be between midnight and before dawn in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday.

The Leonids – one of the more prolific annual meteor showers – are usually fast, bright meteors, and are associated with Comet Tempel-Tuttle.

They appear to stream from the head of the constellation Leo the Lion, hence the name.

A tiny path of debris is left by the comet as it follows its path around the Sun, and this enters Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70kms per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

Stargazers do not need specialist equipment to see the display which will be visible to the naked eye.

However, a clear sky, a little patience and the darkest possible conditions – away from streetlights and other sources of light – will give people the best chance of seeing the Leonids.

The best displays will be visible in central, southern and eastern parts of the UK, according to the Met Office, so long as there are breaks between showers.

Operational meteorologist Dan Stroud said: “We have a waxing moon this weekend so there should be dark skies.

“There will be a band of wind and heavy rain moving across the country, but by the time the sun goes down on Saturday, most of it should have cleared, and there will be some decent breaks between showers.

“It will be hit and miss, but there’s a chance of clear spells, especially the further east you are.”

The meteors will be visible in all parts of the sky, so a wide open space where the night sky can be scanned will help.

Those missing out on the shower’s peak will still have a chance to glimpse the display as it continues for several days afterwards.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in