It’s nighttime and suddenly, you see a sight in the sky that you’ve never seen before. It seems that thousands of shooting stars are falling from the darkness of space and crossing the firmament in all directions.
As you continue to look up, you realize that the number of falling meteors is getting more and more intense, until it seems like there are more than you can count. The bright light and the trails they leave behind make it look like the sky is full of fireworks.
Soon, you realize that the people around you are reacting with awe and fear some are kneeling in prayer, others are hiding in their homes, while others are running into the streets to watch the spectacle.
This is what happened on November 12, 1833, when a meteor shower was so intense that it was possible to see up to 100,000 meteors crossing the sky every hour. At the time, many thought it was the end of the world.
This event, known as the “Leonid Star Shower,” occurs annually in November and occurs when the Earth passes through the orbit of comet Tempel-Tuttle. The meteor shower takes its name from the constellation Leo, as the meteors appear to come from that direction in the night sky.
The Leonid meteor shower of 1833 was particularly intense and spectacular, and it is said that some people in North America woke up in the middle of the night thinking their houses were on fire because of the bright light from the meteors. Many believed it was an apocalyptic event and prepared for the worst.
The Leonids meteor shower was so intense that it was possible to see up to 100,000 meteors crossing the sky every hour. At the time, many thought it was the end of the world, so much so that it inspired this woodcut by Adolf Vollmy, titled “The End of the World” showing a man kneeling in prayer as meteors fall in the background. This image became a symbol of the popular belief that the end of the world was near.
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