2009 Leonid meteor shower to light up North America

According to NASA, the 2009 Leonid meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 17 across North America.

"We're predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in an earlier interview. "Our forecast is in good accord with independent theoretical work by other astronomers."

The first stream peaks around 3 a.m. CST across North American skies, although the hours both leading up to and following should produce excellent viewing results as well.

The next stream crosses shortly before dawn in Indonesia and China.

Weather.com is forecasting partly cloudy skies for the New Orleans area Monday into Tuesday of next week. Escaping the light polution of the downtown area should provide the best viewing opportunity.

The Leonids are famous for storming, most recently in 1999-2002 when deep crossings of Tempel-Tuttle's debris streams produced outbursts of more than 1000 meteors per hour. The Leonids of 2009 won't be like that, but it only takes one bright Leonid streaking past Mars to make the night worthwhile.

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