On the night of November 12-13, 1833, thousands of meteors formed a meteor storm visible over North America east of the Rockies
November 12, 2025 - November 13, 2025
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 12 of November, repeating indefinitely
On the night of November 12-13, 1833, thousands of meteors formed a meteor storm visible over North America east of the Rockies. The impressive sight lasted for hours, entrancing Americans, and leading many to believe that it was the end of the world.
Leading figures of the 19th century took note, including Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Harriet Tubman. Walt Whitman recollected a story from Lincoln of the storm:
“‘When I was a young man in Illinois,’ said he, ‘I boarded for a time with a Deacon of the Presbyterian church. One night I was roused from my sleep by a rap at the door, & I heard the Deacon’s voice exclaiming ‘Arise, Abraham, the day of judgment has come!’ I sprang from my bed & rushed to the window, and saw the stars falling in great showers! But looking back of them in the heavens I saw all the grand old constellations with which I was so well acquainted, fixed and true in their places. Gentlemen, the world did not come to an end then, nor will the Union now.’” ¬– “A Lincoln Reminisce,” Specimen Days & Collect
Did you know? The Leonid meteors, which created the great storm in 1833, can be seen annually, though they tend to be the most impressive on a 33-year cycle. This year, peak viewing is estimated to be around November 17-18.
Leonid Meteor Storm, as seen over North America on the night of November 12-13, 1833, Edmund Weiß, 1888
-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer