Grab a blanket, but forget the telescope -- without a lens you should be able to see the Leonids meteor shower when it peaks several house before dawn on Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18.
The meteors are named for the Leo constellation. Leonid showers are caused when Earth passes through a comet's trail -- this year, through Tempel-Tuttle, which has a 33-year rotation around the sun.
As with any meteor shower, the show is going to be better the further you get from city lights, and astronomers note that the Leonids will be brightest in the North Eastern horizon. While state parks and most trails are closed during Leonid's prime time, there are still a couple spots you can go to check out the show (even if you don't want to go outside).
- A short drive out to the West valley (where any parking lot or spot off the highway away from the lights will do) or a drive up to Northern Arizona, if you're game to add some mileage on a Friday or Saturday night are always good bets to catch some skytime action.
- The Phoenix Astronomical Society is also hosting a small gathering on Saturday and Sunday night to watch the show.
- For those who don't want to venture out into the desert, there will be a live meteor radar on spaceweather.com that will feature full coverage of the shower, a "fireball cam," updated meteor counts and pictures from around the globe.
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The ASU Astronomy Observatory in Tempe will also be closed, but if watching stars is your thing, the club hosts "Open House" events the last Friday of every month, where telescopes are available for viewing and info sessions.