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Did a Leonid meteor crash into the Moon, leaving a crater like this one?
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Courtesy of NASA

Highlights of the Leonid Meteor Shower
News story originally written on November 23, 1999

The Leonids have come and gone, but scientists are still studying this exciting meteor shower. One astronomer believes that he has videotaped a meteorite impacting the Moon! David Dunham, president of the International Occultation Timing Association, is looking for others that may have proof of this rare event.

Viewers in Europe and and parts of the Middle East saw the best show on November 18, 1999. Scientists estimate an average of 70 meteors an hour. Those living in North America had a small but respectable average of 20 to 40 an hour. Needless to say, all those that woke up before dawn received a special treat.

But not all scientists were looking through their telescopes. NASA launched a weather balloon shortly after the shower's peak, in hopes of capturing a meteoroid, which is a tiny meteor about the size of a grain of sand. Although the chances are very slim, scientists are hoping their instruments captured one of these speedy particles.

"It works like flypaper," explains NASA astrophysicist Dr. John Horack. "When tiny particles in the stratosphere strike the exposed acrylics, they stick. Then they return to Earth along with the rest of the payload. We've been testing a variety of substances for microparticle capture and the ones we're using on this flight look promising."

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