2012 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. Overall activity was particularly low this year, with visual reporters noting that the Leonid count was barely above the usual background.

This is a composite image of 112 Leonid meteors collected between the evening of November 15 and the morning of November 20 (five nights). 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.

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 over the five nights. The hourly rate represents a simple raw count of events, and hasn't been corrected for zenith angle or magnitude. Peak activity should have occurred on 17 November, but was clearly later.
2009 Leonid Distribution

© Copyright 2012, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.