Leonids Meteor Shower: Tonight

A meteor streaks across the sky Tuesday over Vinton, Calif., during the annual Perseid meteor shower. (Kevin Clifford/Associated Press)
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A meteor over Vinton, Calif. during the annual Perseid meteor shower. (Kevin Clifford/Associated Press)

Skygazers will get a real treat tonight as the Earth passes through comet debris, creating quite a show.

The annual meteor shower known as the Leonids will peak tonight, when earth passes through a cloud of debris—- reportedly, for North American residents, the peak is expected at around 10 p.m. EST but the meteors won’t start to appear until after midnight.

According to the Huffington Post, Earth is passing through material left by the TempelTuttle comet.

According to Spacedate.org, comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers because as comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit.

As the planet moves through these particles, it sweeps them up and according to Space.com, they are then heated by friction with Earth’s atmosphere, causing bright streaks of light in the sky.

According to the National Geographic, the Leonids’ peak will produce about 20 visible shooting stars an hour. National Geographic also reported that astronomers also expect as many as three outbursts during which there could be upward of 200 meteors an hour.

Unfortunately, the particles may be hard to see and go unnoticed due to the brightness of the moon tonight.