Leonids Meteor Shower

In 2022, the expected peak night of the Leonids is from November 17 until dawn November 18. The waning crescent moon doesn’t rise until about 2 a.m., so the best peak viewing is just before that time. The famous Leonid meteor shower produced one of the greatest meteor storms in living memory. Rates were as high as thousands of meteors per minute during a 15-minute span on the morning of November 17, 1966. On that beautiful night in 1966, Leonid meteors did, briefly, fall like rain. They streamed from a single point in the sky – their radiant point – in the constellation Leo the Lion. Some who witnessed the 1966 meteor storm had a strong impression of Earth moving through space, fording the meteor stream. Leonid meteor storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years. But the Leonids around the turn of the century – while wonderful for many observers – did not match the shower of 1966. And, in most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars. In a typical year, you’ll see a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour on a dark night. Like many meteor showers, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn, for all points on the globe.

This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. (So I guess start making plans for November 2033?)

The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.