On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a spectacular meteor storm over North America created the appearance of millions of shooting stars raining down from the sky. The phenomenon, known as the Leonid Meteor Storm, both amazed and terrified those who witnessed it when as many as 150,000 meteors per hour fell like fiery snowflakes from the sky.
Each year in November, the earth’s orbit passes through a band of meteorites known as Leonids because they appear to emanate from the constellation Leo. The Leonids are countless fragments of ice, rock, and dust left behind by the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. About every 33 years, the Leonid meteor shower intensifies, increasing the possibility of a dazzling display of lights. Such was the case in 1833 when the Leonid Meteor Storm put on a spectacular show.
A professor at Yale College, Denison Olmstead, published a public plea in the newspapers, asking people to document what they’d seen so he could study the phenomenon further. He published his groundbreaking findings in a scientific journal the following year, connecting the meteor storm to a comet that revolves around the sun.
This year, the Leonid meteor shower will peak on November 17, though scientists say the activity won’t come close to the 1833 event. If you want to learn more about the Leonid meteor shower and read first-hand accounts from those who were there, search Newspapers.com™ today.