Catch the Leonid Meteor Shower this weekend

See up to 20 meteors per hour in the early hours of Sunday morning

This weekend, on the night of Saturday 17th to the morning of Sunday 18th, the Leonids meteor shower will be at peak intensity. Although this year there won't be any infamous meteor storm of tens of meteors per second, skywatchers can expect to see up to 20 meteors per hour passing through the atmosphere, but even one or two bright streaks can satisfy you for the night! 

Leonids meteor shower
Leonids meteor shower passing across the constellation Canis Major
Image credit: Tony Hallas


When should I watch them?

If you're in the UK, the highest chance you'll have of spotting some meteors at a reasonable hour is just past midnight, when the Moon has set and the sky is dark. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have a higher chance of seeing more meteors than the Southern Hemisphere due to the positioning of the constellations; the Leonids get their name as they appear to radiate from the constellation of Leo the Lion, but will be visible across the entire sky. If you're planning on staying up then the meteor shower will carry on through to the early hours of the morning, but as the sky gets lighter the chances of seeing any more meteors will slowly diminish. 

Where should I watch them?

As ever, the darker the sky is the better. This means that the further you can get away from light pollution of any kind, the higher the chance you'll have of seeing a meteor pass through the atmosphere. If there are any dark spots around you; fields, areas that are not street-lit then it's definitely worth a small drive or walk (providing the sky isn't cloudy!). 

You'll want a dark sky with quite a few stars visible.
Image credit: Visit Coll

How should I watch them?

You're welcome to use visual tools such as binoculars, but we would definitely advise keeping your field of view as wide as possible and simply using your eyes and your whole field of vision to spot meteors - most of the time you'll catch them in your peripheral vision so just lie back, relax and watch the sky (with a little patience too!). 


By following the link below you will find an excellent live graphic of the meteor shower. You can change the graphic to suit your location as a means of testing out beforehand if it's worth going out to spot some meteors - good luck!

Click here: Meteor graphic