An astronomer floating off the Florida Keys
sees a dark heaven illuminated by skyrockets
that seem to be falling upon him.
Launched from Leo that November 12, 1799,
extinguished by the greater fire of daybreak.
The first recorded observance of a meteor shower in North America was by Andrew Ellicott Douglass . He was an American astronomer who was on a ship off the Florida Keys in 1799. He described the Leonids meteor shower, which occurs every November. The shower gets its name from the fact that it seems to originate in the constellation Leo, and it’s the result of debris from a comet known as Tempel-Tuttle. When the comet’s orbit takes it back to that part of the solar system — roughly every 33 years — the Leonids are especially spectacular.