Every year around mid-November, debris left in the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle strikes Earth’s atmosphere and creates the annual Leonid meteor shower.
This famous engraving of the 1833 Leonid meteor shower was produced for the Adventist book Bible Readings for the Home Circle by Adolf Vollmy. It’s based on a painting by Swiss artist Karl Jauslin, which, in turn, was based on a first-person account of the 1833 storm by a minister, Joseph Harvey Waggoner, who saw the 1833 shower on his way from Florida to New Orleans. In that famous shower, hundreds of thousands of meteors per hour were seen! It was the first meteor storm of modern times. Read more about the 1833 Leonid meteor shower in this post.
This year’s Leonids peak on Tuesday morning, November 18. Your sky won’t look like this, but the Leonids are a reliable annual shower, plus the moon is out of the way and the planet Jupiter – brightest planet in the nighttime sky now – is near the Leonid’s radiant point. Watch between midnight and dawn on the 18th, and do get away from city lights. Expect to see about 10 to 15 Leonid meteors per hour.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.