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Laura Branigan


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Stars are again falling on Alabama this month


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sixty-six years ago this month, Ann Hodges became the first person in recorded history to be hit by a meteorite.

Originally investigated by the Air Force as a UFO, the space rock crashed through the roof of her home in what is now Oak Grove and bounced off a console radio. A historical marker was raised in 2010.

The same Leonid meteor shower returns annually between Nov. 6-30 when debris in the path of a comet’s orbit crossed by Earth vaporizes as it enters the atmosphere. Typically, the shower produces about 15 meteors per hour, especially visible when there’s no light pollution and little moonlight as is the case this year with only a tiny crescent. 2020’s shower is expected to peak overnight Nov. 16 into the early morning hours of Nov. 17.

An especially intense Leonid meteor shower observed in Alabama in Nov. 1833 prompted the song “Stars Fell on Alabama”, composed in 1934 and since recorded by more than 100 artists. In January 2002, the phrase was added to state license plates.

If you miss this year’s Leonids, mark your calendar for the Geminid meteor shower on Dec. 13-14.

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