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Falling Skies

We call them shooting stars and many of us are lucky to see one in a lifetime. But meteor showers happen throughout the year, when tiny particles—some no larger than a grain of rice—drift from a comet or asteroid’s tail and streak across Earth’s atmosphere.

In November 1966, spectators witnessed more than 1,000 shooting stars in a single hour during the Leonid meteor shower. And while few subsequent showers have matched the power of the storm of ’66, the Leonids are still one of the best annual opportunities to see one—or 20—shooting stars.

This year, the Leonids are set to peak the evening and morning of November 17/18. Star-gazers will need to wake up early to catch optimum viewing around 3 and 4 a.m., when the highest concentration of meteors should be falling.

For the best viewing, here are a few tips:
Find a viewing spot far from city lights (for example, around Clarks Hill). Turn off any flashlights and let your eyes adjust.

Snuggle up against the cold with plenty of blankets and hot cocoa.

Be patient. You may wait a half-hour before seeing anything, then suddenly see several shooting stars in a row.

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