November 17th, 2010
08:40 PM ET

Catch it if you can: Leonid meteor shower continues tonight

A meteor streak captured in Sherborn, Massachusetts, during the 2001 Leonid meteor shower.

Stargazers have the option of staying up real late tonight or waking up very early Thursday morning for optimal viewing of this year's Leonid meteor shower.

Weather permitting, viewers can expect to see up to 20 meteors per hour after the gibbous moon sets  between 3 and 4 a.m. Thursday, depending on where you live, according to StarDate magazine.  At this time, look eastward to see the meteors.

Consult this handy table, courtesy of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, to find out the time the moon sets tonight where you live.

All you'll need are your eyes and a dark place far from the lights of a city to view the meteor shower without a telescope or binoculars, as long as skies are clear.

The light of the moon, sun and stars hinder meteor-watching. With the full moon approaching next week, tonight offers the best remaining opportunity to witness the annual November shower.

The name Leonid comes from the constellation Leo, from which the meteors appear to radiate. But Leonids are bits of debris from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle that are left behind as the comet orbits the sun.

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