Leonids Meteor Shower

November 17, 2024 – November 18, 2024 all-day America/Chicago Timezone

A nearly full moon will outshine all but the brightest Leonid meteors this year. For the best view, find a very dark spot and watch after midnight.

Here’s a bit of history: The Leonids, typically an average shower, occasionally produces extraordinary meteor storms. In 1966, observers witnessed thousands of meteors per minute during a spectacular 15-minute period on November 17. Meteors seemed to fall like rain, all streaming from the constellation Leo the Lion. This event left a lasting impression of Earth moving through space, amidst a dense meteor stream. While Leonid meteor storms recur approximately every 33 to 34 years, recent occurrences haven’t matched the intensity of 1966. Usually, the Leonids peak at 10-15 meteors per hour and are most active after midnight, with the highest numbers just before dawn.

The Leonids are unique for their roughly 33-year cyclonic peak, with the last major event in 2001. (So maybe mark your calendars for November 2033?) The shower, resulting from dust grains left by comet Tempel-Tuttle, discovered in 1865, runs annually from November 6-30. While meteors radiate from Leo, they can be seen across the sky.