Over time these patches of comet debris spread out
giving us a small shower. The Leonid
meteor shower generally sees 10 to15 meteors per hour at the
maximum. When the earth passes the denser
patches we see a meteor storm, with thousands of meteors per
hour at the maximum.
the previous storms?
of the Leonid storm was by the Arabians in 902. Then in 931
the Chinese reported a Leonid storm. In 1799 two
scientists witnessed a storm in South America. Curious about the
Leonid storm, one of the researchers investigated the matter and
found that 33 years earlier in 1766, South America had witnessed Leonid storm. The
Indies and Canada witnessed a storm of 50,000 to 200,000 meteors
per hour in 1833. Scientists were starting to see a
pattern and in 1866 Western Europe had another good show
of the Leonids. In 1966 the Western United States saw
150,000 meteors per hour. Scientists expected that the pattern
would hold and we would see a Leonid storm around 1999.
A brief burst of meteor activity occurred in 1999 in Europe. In 1998
and 2000 the public watched on as bright fireballs were
seen during the Leonids, although the meteor rate was not great. The
year 2001 was predicted to give earth a meteor storm and
that is exactly what we saw:)
weren’t there storms in 1899 and 1933?
The Leonids of
1899 and 1933 were expected to fall into the
pattern and produce a meteor storm, but no storm materialized.
At the time the scientific community did not consider the orbits
of Jupiter and Saturn, which caused the debris to shift away
from the earth’s orbit, and caused the lack of storms in 1899
is expected to be a good show as well. A brief is coming
soon…until then check out the following websites.
Other Leonid sites:
Stars by Mike Reynolds (Thanks
for the book Mark!)
Meteors, Comets, Supernovae and other Transient Phenomena edited
by Patrick Moore.