||2008 Leonid Shower|
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.
This is a composite image of 141 meteors collected over four evenings, November 16-19 UT. Because the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is spread out. The Moon was present during the peak activity period each night, so only bright meteors have been recorded. The Moon has been removed from the composite image.
graph plots the distribution of meteors over the four nights, and clearly shows
a predicted burst in activity on November 17.