November will have you seeing stars — or at least the fiery remains of cosmic debris. The Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak Nov. 17 just as the new moon creates excellent conditions to enjoy the show. To help make the most of your viewing experience, Jay Reynolds, observatory director for the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, offers a few stellar tips.
Bring the heat: It gets cold once the sun goes down in mid-November, so bring a thick blanket and your favorite beach chair, especially one that reclines to create a primo viewing angle. “If you lay down or sit down on the ground in November, you can easily get sick,” Reynolds says.
Avoid streetlights: Can’t get to a dark park? (Observatory Park in Montville Township is the closest.) Head to your backyard as far away from streetlights as possible. “Make the best of what you have,” Reynolds says. “The streetlights directly in your eyes will reduce your night vision by a substantial factor.”
Be patient: Drawing its name from the constellation Leo, the shower may appear to originate from that part of the sky at a rate of 10 to 20 meteors per hour. But don’t focus solely in that area, or you may miss something. “Just look up,” Reynolds says. “Within 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll usually see at least one.”