Once a year and typically in mid-November, the earth's journey around the sun drags the planet through a patch of debris from the Tempel-Tuttle comet, also known as Comet 55P. Comet Tempel-Tuttle is a periodic comet with a 33-year orbital period and, as earth advances through its orbital path, space rubble hits the atmosphere, bursts into flames and causes a dazzling light show. The spectacle will be visible worldwide this week.
The meteor shower will peak between midnight and dawn on Wednesday, according to EarthSky, however the show kicks off early Tuesday morning, around 3 a.m. Eastern. During primetime meteor viewing, about 10 to 15 meteors should be visible.
What's in a name? Each annual meteor shower gets its name from the the corresponding constellation that marks their appearance in the sky. This week's annual meteor shower takes its name from the constellation Leo, as the space rocks seem to emanate from the group of stars that makeup the lion's mane.
According to EarthSky, the Leonid meteor shower will be visible in all parts of the sky, not just near the constellation Leo. The best bet for those hoping to witness the event is to pick a viewing local removed from bright city lights.
Here's a compilation of images that capture the Leonid meteor shower in years past.