LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The waxing crescent moon will set early on Friday, November 16th creating a dark backdrop for this year's Leonid meteor shower.
Meteor showers occur when debris enters the earth's atmosphere at high speeds. Heat is created as the earth's atmosphere compresses ahead of the fast-moving debris. And light produced from this interaction forms the characteristic streak of light seen with a shooting star.
The Leonid meteor shower is an annual event that occurs when the earth passes through dust left by the comet Temple-Tuttle. The number of shooting stars seen during this shower varies from year to year based on the comet's 33 year orbit cycle.
This year's shower is not expected to be extraordinarily impressive, but that doesn't mean the shower should be disregarded. NASA predicts 15 to 20 meteors will shoot through the sky an hour. And one reason is the fantastic viewing conditions.
On Friday, the moon will be in the waxing crescent phase and will set early in the night. Mostly clear skies are also expected across the Coulee Region making the only obstacle for sky watchers finding an un-obstructed view of the sky away from city lights.
The Leonid gets its name because meteors that are seen during this shower originate from the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo looks like a backward question-mark and will be located in the eastern sky. Best viewing will occur after midnight on Friday, November 16th and before dawn on Saturday, November 17th.
More more information visit http://www.crh.noaa.gov/fsd/?n=meteor or http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/Watch%20the%20Skies/posts/post_1352904791288.html.