Leonid Meteor Shower returns this weekend: What's the best way to see it?

The most memorable meteor show took place in 1966 (PA)
The most memorable meteor show took place in 1966 (PA)

The Leonid meteor shower will soon be raining down on earth offering some spectacular views of shooting stars across the sky. It is due to reach its peak on Saturday morning (November 18).

Even though the shower happens every year, some years are better than others, and the celestial event has been responsible for some of the most intense meteor storms in history.

​​The most famous Leonid meteor shower produced one of the greatest meteor storms in history. Rates were as high as thousands of meteors per minute during a 15-minute span on the morning of November 17, 1966.

Unfortunately this year looks to be a little bit tamer. Operational meteorologist Dan Stroud said: "We have a waxing moon this weekend so there should be dark skies.

"There will be a band of wind and heavy rain moving across the country, but by the time the sun goes down on Saturday, most of it should have cleared, and there will be some decent breaks between showers.

"It will be hit and miss, but there's a chance of clear spells, especially the further east you are."

However, it is still not something to be missed, so here is everything you need to know about this year’s Leonid meteor shower.

When is the best time to see it?

The best time to see the meteor show is between midnight and before dawn in the early hours of Saturday, November 18.

Where is the best place to see the Leonids?

The good news is that it is possible to see the shower from just about anywhere. However, light pollution can affect your meteor viewing so the more remote you are the better.

According to Nasa, meteors always travel away from the constellation they are named after. The Leonid shower is named after the constellation, Leo, so that is where the shower will appear to originate from.

Although star gazers in the Northern Hemisphere will have the best view of the shower, those watching in the Southern Hemisphere will also be able to catch a glimpse.

What causes Leonids?

The Leonid shower occurs when the Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel Tuttle.

When the Earth crosses paths with the comet, debris and pieces of the comet fall towards Earth. The Earth’s atmosphere causes the debris to heat up and burn creating balls of fire called meteors.

Usually, the debris that is ignited burns up before it reaches Earth.

How can you see them?

You do not need a telescope or a microscope to see the shower as it is visible to the naked eye.

Bill Cooke, a Nasa meteor expert, told Space that the best way to see the shower is to “go outside, find a dark sky, lie flat on your back and look straight up".