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How to look for the Leonids

Where is the best place to see the Leonids?

This year the best place to see the Leonids is over Europe!

When to look

Some Leonid meteors can seen between about 14 November and 20 November, but the peak is expected to occur on the night of 17/18 November. Be aware, however, that there is uncertainty in the prediction and it is worth watching the night before and the night after as well.

The best time to look is from 23:00 local time onwards, with the peak expected around 02:00 Universal Time (03:00 Central European Time). Sitings may continue up to sunrise.

How to look!

Try to find a dark, clear place to watch from; light pollution in a town will severely limit the number of meteors you will see.

You need no special equipment - do not use a telescope or binoculars. You also need to allow your eyes time to adjust to the dark, this can take up to 30 minutes.

The best way to observe a meteor shower is simply to lie back and look with your eyes alone. A deck chair or sun-lounger will allow you to observe comfortably. Remember to wrap up warm! If you need to use a torch, choose one with a red light (e.g. a cycle lamp), otherwise your night vision will be affected.

Set up your chair so that you are facing roughly south-east, and adjust your position so that can comfortably look at an angle halfway between the horizon and overhead. This will let you see the full radiant effect (i.e. that the meteors appear to come from the constellation of Leo). But in fact it does not matter which direction you look in.

And remember, if you are on the wrong side of the world, or if it is a cloudy night here in Europe, join us here at ESA Science Leonids 99. Throughout the night you can:

  • join in our forum and put your questions to direct to the experts
  • get live images and reports from the Science teams high in the Spanish Sierra Nevada!