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Leonid Meteor Shower 2012: Viewing Tips for Hartland

The Leonid meteor shower will peak Saturday and next Tuesday.

Keep your eyes on the sky over Hartland late Saturday and early Sunday, as the famous Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours.

These meteors move quickly — about 40 miles per second — and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy Magazine. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo and can vary in color.

"Many Leonids are also bright. Usually, the meteors are white or bluish-white, but in recent years some observers reported yellow-pink and copper-colored ones," according to Astronomy Magazine.

If you miss the show Saturday night, the meteor shower is expected to peak again Tuesday.

Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to Space.com. This shower is called the Leonids shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo (but they are really much closer to Earth than those stars). The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backward question mark.

In some past years, the Leonids have been called a "meteor storm" — as opposed to a "meteor shower" — but astronomers predict this year will be limited to no more than 15 meteors per hour.

"While the Leonid meteor shower has a history of putting on stupendous displays, this year will not be one of them," according to NBCNews.com.

A meteor is the streak of light that can be seen when a meteoroid enters Earth's atmosphere. The Leonids usually contain many bright meteors with trails that can be seen for several minutes. Fireballs might be seen with the naked eye.

The shower began earlier this month.

To see the Leonids, lie outside in a dark place between midnight and dawn. Point your feet east and look carefully. 

To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside.

If you snap any great pictures of the Leonids, we'd love to see them and share them! Click "upload photos and videos" above, post them on our Facebook page, tweet us or email tatum.ryan@patch.com.

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