"Night of your birth. Thirty-three. The Leonids they were called. God how the stars did fall"
A famous depiction of the 1833 meteor storm, produced in 1889 for the Seventh-day Adventist book Bible Readings for the Home Circle
Public DomainA famous depiction of the 1833 meteor storm, produced in 1889 for the Seventh-day Adventist book Bible Readings for the Home Circle - Credit: Adolf Vollmy

The Leonids are a prolific meteor shower originating from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 meteors an hour can be seen falling through the sky in a typical shower, which tends to peak around November 17.

The Leonids shower of 1833 (the ‘night the stars fell’ in ‘the year it rained fire’) was particularly impressive, leading many to believe the Apocalypse had finally arrived on Earth. It was only after 1833 that a scientific explanation was put forward for the phenomenon. Scientists were able to identify the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo (from which the shower is named) and correctly predict a repeat shower in 1866.