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Leonid Meteor Showers Peak Soon with Long Trails, 15 per Hour | Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Published 11/11/23 a 7:05 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Leonid Meteor Showers Peak Soon with Long Trails, 15 per Hour | Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Portland, Oregon) – Now is the time to look up if you're on the Washington coast or Oregon coast – or anywhere in the world, for that matter. There are no less than four different meteor showers occurring in November, one of which peaks over the next two nights and another peaks on November 17 – 18. (Photo courtesy NASA)

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The Northern Taurids peak tonight and tomorrow night - November 11 and 12 - with the Southern Taurids still around (although they already peaked). The Orionids peaked last month, but they're still around until November 22.

The big show coming up, however, is the peak of the Leonid meteor showers, happening November 17 – 18.

Meanwhile, another one starts up on November 22, with the Geminids peaking in mid-December.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI, said the moon will be 23% of full and a waxing crescent on the peak of November 17 - 18, which will interfere to some degree with viewing.

“The shower is called Leonids because its radiant, or the point in the sky where the meteors seem to emerge from, lies in the constellation Leo, the Lion,” Todd said. “The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains.”

That means the streak left behind them can be rather long and intense.

Shooting star collage from Portland / Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle is what creates the Leonids. Todd said it takes the comet about 33 years to complete one orbit around the sun, and when the Earth passes through that stuff left behind it the tiny chunks hit the atmosphere and burn up.

“November’s wonderful Leonid meteor shower happens every year at this time, as our world crosses the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle,” he said. “It’s when this cometary debris enters Earth’s atmosphere, and vaporizes, that we see the Leonid meteor shower.”

These meteor showers go from November 3 to as late as December 2, and they can produce a decent amount. The trick to seeing them is first dependent on weather (which on the Oregon coast and Washington coast can be a bit tricky), and then it really helps to get out of metropolitan city lights like Seattle or Portland. That's when the coastlines of Oregon and Washington come in handy.

“The peak activity meteor count forecast is about 15 meteors per hour in 2023,” Todd said. “As with most meteor showers, the best time to watch the Leonids is usually between the hours of midnight and dawn.”

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Todd said seeing the shower is relatively easy, however. Find a spot that provides a big, wide view of the sky with few obstructions. If you're viewing from the cities, find a darker area, such as an urban park.

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“If you're viewing from the city, try to observe where artificial lights obstruct the least,” Todd said. “Meteor watching is an unaided-eye event but binoculars are handy for watching trails (persistent trains) that may hang in the sky for one or more seconds after a meteor's passage.”

Youcan learn more about the Leonids and the current night sky in Starry Night Live! shown daily in OMSI’s Kendall Planetarium. Visit for a schedule.

Get deeper into the Washington coast. More photos below:

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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