The Leonid Meteor Shower Explained in 10 Facts | 3/4/1997 | Robert Roy Britt
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A composite of Leonid meteor shower. This view was captured over several hours during the 2010 Leonids by Jim Gamble.

Each year around Nov. 17-18 the Leonid meteor shower peaks, offering up several shooting stars an hour. In some years there are dramatic bursts in which many meteors rain down every minute. The 2019 Leonid meteor shower will peak overnight Nov. 17-18.

Learn - Behind - Show - Fun - Facts

Learn what's behind this fickle show with these fun facts here!

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Editor - Note - Story - November

Editor's note: This updated story was originally posted in November 2010.


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Most of the shooting stars in the annual Leonid meteor shower are the result of tiny bits of material, the size of sand grains or peas, blown off a comet and wafting through space for centuries.

Leonids - Tempel-Tuttle - Every - Years - Sun

The Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris, each in a slightly different location than previous trails.

Over time, the debris trails spread out. Each year, Earth passes through different streams, and different parts of the streams, creating bursts of activity and slack periods in the nights surrounding the event's peak.

Leonids - Space - Trash

Next: Are the Leonids space trash?

Hey, wait a minute! I read … Yes, I know. We all conveniently think of meteors as bits of space debris, but it’s a white lie – one we'll keep committing for this fact. For the record, these bits of space debris are properly termed meteoroids.

Meteoroid - Atmosphere - Light - Phenomenon

When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, the light phenomenon that...
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