Andrew Ellicott Douglass, an early American astronomer born in Vermont, witnesses the Leonids meteor shower from a ship off the Florida Keys. Douglass, who later became an assistant to the famous astronomer Percival Lowell, wrote in his journal that the "whole heaven appeared as if illuminated with sky rockets, flying in an infinity of directions, and I was in constant expectation of some of them falling on the vessel. They continued until put out by the light of the sun after day break." Douglass' journal entry is the first known record of a meteor shower in North America.
The Leonids meteor shower is an annual event that is greatly enhanced every 33 years or so by the appearance of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. When the comet returns, the Leonids can produce rates of up to several thousand meteors per hour that can light up the sky on a clear night. Douglass witnessed one such manifestation of the Leonids shower, and the subsequent return of the comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1833 is credited as inspiring the first organized study of meteor astronomy." (This knowledge is from www.history.com)
Tonight we are going to teach the kids all about comets and how they burn up in the atmosphere and what a "Shooting Star" truly is. Due to the time of year and the Leonides we are hopefully going to be lucky enough to spot a few tonight. Before we venture outside we will review some of the constellations with the kids that they could see this time of year in our neck of the woods. We will go outside when it is dark and watch the sky. We will be looking for familiar constellations as we have done before and we will be truly hoping to see a "shooting star". When our outside activities are over we will be going inside to have warm peanuts that we will have heated in the oven, fruit smoothies for a fun drink and we will sit down and have a special movie night. These nights with the children are always truly fun.