THE LEONID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, source of the annual Leonid meteor shower. Forecasters expect 10 to 15 meteors per hour to fly out of the constellation Leo when the shower peaks on Nov. 18th.
Above: Ian Webster created this visualization of Comet Tempel-Tuttle’s debris cutting across Earth’s orbit.
Many people, when they hear “Leonids,” think of the great Leonid storms of 1999, 2001 and 2002. In November of those years, thousands of meteors per hour spilled across the skies of Europe and North America as Earth plowed through dense filaments of dust from Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Bad news: Storms won’t happen in 2019. This year, Earth is going to miss the storm-filaments, instead passing through a diffuse haze of dust that fills the space between them. Hourly counts will number in the low dozens, not thousands.
Still, it’s a meteor shower. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Monday, Nov. 18th, when the constellation Leo is high in the sky. Some Leonids may also be seen at the same time on Sunday, Nov. 17th: Sky map.