PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – So often, Portland’s cloud cover in late fall and winter prevents star gazers from enjoying celestial events – but the weather won’t be a problem for the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. 

The meteor shower has been going on since Nov. 3, but astronomers say the peak will take place from the night of Thursday, Nov. 17 to the morning of Friday, Nov. 18. The night before, Wednesday, Nov. 16, might also be a great time to watch. 

The moon will be waning over the next three days, but its brightness could still impair people’s ability to see meteors, or shooting stars, in the night sky. 

Experts recommend watching from the late evening hours until moonrise, which is at 11:52 p.m. on Nov. 16 and at 12:59 a.m. on Nov. 18.  

“Dress warmly and let your gaze wander across all parts of the sky,” said Jim Todd, director of space science education at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. “Meteors in annual showers get their names from the point in the starry sky from which they appear to radiate.” 

The name Leonid meteor shower comes from the constellation Leo because the meteors radiate outward from the vicinity of the stars representing the lion’s mane, Todd said. 

KOIN 6 News Meteorologist Joseph Dames said people in the Portland area should be able to see the meteor shower thanks to clear skies Thursday night. 

“There is nothing better than a meteor shower that we can actually see!” Dames said. “There will be a strong east wind blowing across the region that is going to be cool at night. This does dry us out and it will prevent clouds or overnight fog from building.” 

He recommends people find a place away from light pollution to get the best view of the night sky. 

The American Meteor Society predicts that on Nov. 19, Earth could encounter the 1733 dust trail. If this occurs, then the real show could occur the morning of Nov. 19 and people might be able to see as many as 50 to 200 meteors per hour. This is the same dust trail that caused a meteor storm in the 19th century. 

The meteors result from Earth passing through the orbital path of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Comets’ orbits are littered with debris and when the bits of dust collide with Earth’s atmosphere, they vaporize, creating what are known as meteors or shooting stars.