A meteor lights up the night sky over the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl near the village San Nicolas de los Ranchos in the early hours of December 14, 2004. The shower, named Geminid because it appears to originate from the constellation Gemini, lit up the sky with dozens of shooting stars per hour. Daniel Aguilar/Reuters
A meteor can be seen streaking across the sky over Floral City, Fla. Huge Live oaks frame the bottom of the long-exposure photograph taken on November 17, 1998. The Earth has moved across the path of small particles left by the Tempel-Tuttle comet which cause the light show in the eastern sky as they burn up in the atmosphere. Maurice Rivenbark/Times/Newscom/FILE
The Leonids are visible in the night sky during November, and this observation was made by the French aeronauts Henri Giffard (1825-1882) and W. de Fonvielle during a trip in the balloon 'L'Hirondelle'. From 'Voyages Aeriens'. Newscom
The Queen Sri Suriyothai statue in Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya is silhouetted against the night sky, as thousands of people turned out to watch the Leonid meteor shower in the early hours of November 18, 1998. Traffic jams were reported on major highways leading out of the capital Bangkok as Thais fled smoggy skies to catch a glimpse of the celestial display, which disappointed all with fewer meteors than expected. Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP
The Leonid meteor shower took place in the early morning of November 17, 2009. Sky-watchers were able to see 30-50 meteors per hour. In this photo an astronomer observes the Orionid meteor shower at an observatory near the village of Avren east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, on Oct. 20, 2009. The Orionid meteor shower occurs each year as a result of Earth passing through cosmic dust released by Halley's Comet. Petar Petrov/AP/FILE
The Perseid Meteor Shower viewed from the Laguna Mountains in San Diego County, occurs once a year, peaking around August 11th-12th. The meteor shower is caused as the Earth enters a debris field left over from the Comet Swift-Tuttle that occurred in 1862. Most meteors are about the size of a grain of sand that enters the Earth's atmosphere where it burns up causing the spectacular light show. The comet gets its name from the constellation Perseus since the meteors usually radiate from that location in the sky. Newscom
This meteor shower was recorded in the northern Mexican state Sonora in the early morning hours on Nov. 18, 1999. Alejandra ArreolaNOTIMEX/AAL/ECL/Newscom/FILE
A shower of Leonids is observed over London in 1866 in this illustration from Sun, Moon and Stars by Agnes Giberne. Agnes Giberne/Newscom/FILE
A meteor streaks across the night sky above the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada during the annual Orionid shower, so-called because it appears from the direction of the constellation Orion. The shower is created when earth passes through trails of debris floating through space from Halley's Comet. Newscom
A meteor enters the earth's atmosphere during the Perseid meteor shower early on August 13, 2009 in the northeastern Swiss village of Rotbuehl. The earth passed through the densest part of the dusty debris stream from Comet Swift Tuttle on the night of August 12, 2009. Sebastian Derungs/AFP/Newscom/FILE
The Orionid meteor shower peaked last night, but the brightness of the full moon stole the show for many Earth-bound gazers. However, families hoping to glimpse the heavens need not wait for an astronomical event.
Every October, fragments of the famed Haley's comet dance across the sky in the much-anticipated Orionid meteor shower. This year, the light given off by the nearly full moon during the shower peak last night obscured the show for many sky watchers. But all is not lost. The night sky offers many opportunities to explore stars, meteors, and comets throughout the year, says Smithsonian astrophysicist and Harvard lecturer Sean Andrews.