Updated:
Original:
Year
1799
Month Day
November 12

First meteor shower on record

Andrew Ellicott, an early American astronomer, witnesses the Leonids meteor shower from a ship off the Florida Keys. Ellicott 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.” Ellicott’s 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. Ellicott 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.

Tags
terms:
Space

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Akihito enthroned as emperor of Japan

Crown Prince Akihito, the 125th Japanese monarch along an imperial line dating back to 660 B.C., is enthroned as emperor of Japan two years after the death of his father. Akihito, the only son of the late Emperor Hirohito, was the first Japanese monarch to reign solely as an ...read more

Ellis Island closes

On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts it doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New ...read more

Seymour Hersh breaks My Lai Massacre story

Seymour Hersh, an independent investigative journalist, in a cable filed through Dispatch News Service and picked up by more than 30 newspapers, reveals the extent of the U.S. Army’s charges against 1st Lt. William L. Calley at My Lai. Hersh wrote: “The Army says he [Calley] ...read more

Plane crashes in Rockaway, New York

An American Airlines flight out of John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York City crashes into a Queens neighborhood after takeoff on November 12, 2001, killing 265 people. Although some initially speculated that the crash was the result of terrorism, as it came exactly two ...read more

Scott Peterson convicted of murder

On November 12, 2004, Scott Peterson is convicted of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn son. A jury of six men and six women delivered the verdict 23 months after Laci Peterson, who was pregnant, disappeared on Christmas Eve from Modesto, California. The case captivated ...read more

The destruction of Atlanta begins

On November 12, 1864, Union General William T. Sherman orders the business district of Atlanta, Georgia, destroyed before he embarks on his famous March to the Sea. When Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864, he knew that he could not remain there for long. His tenuous ...read more