The Leonids peak this weekend, a lovely annual shower that is the result of a periodic comet that has left a field of debris that is 'bumped into' by the Earth. Like all meteor showers, the Leonids are best viewed after midnight, and can appear almost anywhere in the sky. Like all meteor showers, the best view is under a dark sky away from city lights. Unfortunately we have a full Moon this year for the Leonids, and that means that even in dark conditions, the bright light of the Moon will wash out many of the meteors. So although this is not the best year for this particular shower, there is a bonus: if you get up early to see the meteor shower, you will also get a good look at Comet ISON, which is passing through the constellation Virgo on its way toward the November 28th rendezvous with the Sun. A good bet is to get up early on Sunday November 17th and enjoy a view of Comet ISON as it passes near the bright star Spica, and watch for a few meteors in the process. Finder chart here, or just use the map on the right. I wish you clear skies and good viewing!
In 2005 I began writing a column for the San Francisco Waldorf School newsletter called "The Urban Astronomer." I started this blog in 2007 as a place to archive my articles and to offer additional insights on the night sky - even if you live in a big city. In 2008 I became an occasional guest on the KFOG Morning Show, and more recently on KALW and KGO. Archived shows are posted on the blog. I conduct private star parties for special events and corporate events. Contact me for details.