2009 Leonid Shower

2009 Leonids The annual Leonid meteor shower occurs when debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle intercepts the Earth at a very high velocity. This debris lies in a collection of narrow streams produced by different passes of the comet. These streams are pretty well understood, which has led to high accuracy in predicting Leonid shower performance. Except for periods of high activity that occur for several years around Tempel-Tuttle's near passage of Earth (every 33 years), the Leonids are a fairly minor shower. We are currently in a long period of "normal" Leonid activity, on the order of 20-40 visual meteors per hour at the maximum. There was no interference from the Moon this year.

This is a composite image of 48 Leonid meteors collected on the morning of November 17. Because the images were collected over several hours, the radiant of the shower is spread out. Not shown in the composite are meteors that were not part of the Leonid shower: 9 Southern Taurids, 7 Northern Taurids, 7 Alpha Monocerotids, and 12 sporadics.

Long necklace-like chains are the trails of stars and planets, rotating around Polaris at the north celestial pole.

Fireball videos:

This graph plots the distribution of meteors on the peak morning of November 17. The hourly rate represents a simple raw count of events, and hasn't been corrected for zenith angle or magnitude. There is an odd pattern of swings from higher to lower activity, which may just be a statistical artifact. Overall, there is no evidence of any particular fine structure to the shower, and none was predicted for the debris trail visible from Colorado.
2009 Leonid Distribution

© Copyright 2009, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.