Leonid Meteor Shower: A Reliable November Event | Almanac.com

Leonid Meteor Shower: A Reliable November Event

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When Is the Next Leonid Meteor Storm?

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Get under the shower! The Leonid meteor shower, that is. This dependable event, which peaks around mid-November each year, is so named because its meteors appear to come from the constellation Leo.

This light show actually stems from comet Tempel-Tuttle. As the comet passes close to the Sun during its orbit, some of its particles melt and disintegrate, leaving a trail of debris, mostly the size of grains of sand or smaller, which orbit the Sun. Earth travels through this debris field each year, resulting in the Leonids meteor shower.

Leonid meteors illustration
“The November Meteors. As observed between Midnight and 5 o’clock A.M. on the Night of November 13–14, 1868.” by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot

Although this shower typically averages 10 to 15 shooting stars per hour, occasionally, it surprises. During meteor storms, which occur about every 33 years, the Leonids are known to truly roar! In 1966, viewers saw thousands of meteors per minute. In 2001, there were up to 800 per hour falling through the sky. A spectacular display won’t happen again, however, until around 2034; expect a docile turnout this year. Nevertheless, the Leonids meteors are often colorful and travel at one of the fastest speeds of all meteors. Some produce bright fireballs with long trails.

For the best show, choose a site away from city lights and wait until after midnight. Then set up a lounge chair and look up and/or to the southeast for shooting stars. Don’t forget to make a wish (or 10 to 15)!

See our complete Meteor Shower Calendar for the year.