Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Some years the Leonids are amazing, other years there are very few - are these predictable at all, following trends or at least reasonably accurate predictions?

share|cite|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most meteor showers are associated with comets, they are either remnants of a dead comet or simply orbiting in the same orbit as the associated comet, so their strength can be predicted by how closely earth intersects with the orbit, where the observer is on Earth, and at what point the biggest "clump" of cometary fragments are in the orbit.

To use your Leonid example, it is known that leonid "storms" sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years.

That said, most showers are notoriously unpredictable. We never know for certain if viewing conditions will be right, if the angle of intersection with the orbit will produce many meteor trails, whether our predictions of the density of the number of meteors is correct, and so on.

I have found this page which has meteor show predictions and more discussion on how meteor shower strength is predicted.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.