How to see the Leonid meteor showers peak in Wisconsin

Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 9:20 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The much-anticipated Leonid meteor shower reached its peak at approximately 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 18, providing skygazers with a remarkable celestial display.

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point physics professor and program leader for the Allen F. Blocher Planetarium and Arthur J. Pejsa Observatory Sebastian Zamfir explained the significance of the “peak” of a shower.

“(The peak is) the night when we expect the highest number of events per hour,” Zamfir said. “That means the Earth will be right in the middle of that large swarm of tiny grains left behind by the comet. So tonight is the best time to observe the largest number of such shooting stars.”

“You should be able to get a pretty good meteor shower, and a pretty good show out of it anywhere from 10 up to 15 meteors,” Chad Franzen, an American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, added.

To maximize the viewing experience, Franzen advised gazers to look about 45-50 degrees above the horizon towards the east. For the best view, he also recommended venturing outside city limits or finding another location with minimal light pollution.


For the 2023 Leonid shower peak, the lunar phase was favorable. The moon was only about 25% illuminated, minimizing light contamination and enhancing the visibility of the shower.

Even in prime locations, Franzen said waiting is key,

“We’re not talking about a meteor that’s going to happen every minute rapid fire. But that also doesn’t mean it’s going to happen every six minutes either. So it’s a matter of getting adjusted and allowing yourself time for your eyes to adjust. And then being patient with it.”

No special equipment is needed to witness the meteor shower, but Zamfir recommended bringing one thing

“If there is any kind of charm in the popular stories, you should have a full list of wishes ready,” Zamfir said. “When you see all that many meteors per hour, you need to have all your wishes available.”

Although the peak viewing time is Saturday, the meteor shower can still be observed until December 2nd. Additionally, there are two remaining meteor showers expected to peak next month for those eager to witness more celestial wonders.