Chinese astronomers expect a Leonid meteor shower to be observable between November 14 and 21, with a meteor storm probably due at night Thursday.
Starting on Monday, star gazers will be able to watch the meteor shower 40 minutes after sunset, with most grant sight likely to appear at 23:00 on November 17 when dozens of meteors, or shooting stars, will trail across the evening sky per hour, said experts with the Jiangsu Provincial Astronomers' Society based in Nanjing.
"It's not yet possible to forecast precisely the time and size of the Leonids as we predict the eclipses of the sun or the moon," said Wang Sichao, a researcher with the Zijinshan (Purple Mountain) Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing.
In contrast to the dazzling meteor storm that occurred in 2001 when at least 3,000 shooting stars lit up the sky per hour, Wang said this year's Leonids may be subdued by a bright full moon.
The Leonid storm occurs once every 33.5 years, the astronomers said, adding the Leonids come into being when the orbits of the Earth and comet intersect each other, resulting in strong frictions between the dust grains and atmosphere and thus leading to blazing.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2005)