Christian perspective on the heavens: the Leonid Meteor Shower

If you needed an excuse to get out of the house early this morning, it doesn’t get much better than this: the Leonid Meteor Shower is on vivid display today. The shower’s visibility peaked for North American skywatchers earlier today, but is still visible elsewhere around the world:

“A remarkable feature of this year’s shower is that Leonids will appear to be shooting almost directly out of the planet Mars,” notes Cooke.

It’s just a coincidence. This year, Mars happens to be passing by the Leonid radiant at the time of the shower. The Red Planet is almost twice as bright as a first magnitude star, so it makes an eye-catching companion for the Leonids.

The next stream crossing straddles the hour 2100-2200 UT, shortly before dawn in Indonesia and China. At that time, Earth will pass through a pair of streams laid down by Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1466 and 1533 AD. The double crossing could yield as many as 300 Leonids per hour.

Photos from the meteor shower are already finding their way online: take a few minutes to browse photos of the meteor shower on Flickr. There’s more info at, which also has a video about how to watch meteor showers.

I can’t think of anything more appropriate than these words from Psalm 8:

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? […]

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Did you camp out this morning watching the heavens for glimpses of the meteor shower? If so, feel free to share your experience in the comments below (and even better, link to any photos you took)!

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