Update 13 October: The Draconids were quite successful this year, but the next meteor shower, the Orionids, is unlikely to be much of a spectacle. Despite occasionally offering a really spectacular meteor – sometimes bright fireballs – 2013’s show will be limited because of a bright three-quarter moon at peak hours between midnight and dawn. Even so, Orion is so recognizable that it’s worth a look out between 19 and 23 October.
Before the famous Leonids again on 16-17 November, there will two further meteor showers, the South and North Taurids on 4-5 and 11-12 November respectively. The South Taurids will benefit from a dark moonless sky, but the North Taurids will suffer, like the Orionids, from a three-quarter moon. This moon will be full by the time of the Leonids, and three-quarters again by the time of December 13-14’s Geminids, leaving the South Taurids the best viewing for meteors in what’s left of 2013.
Update 2 October: The next meteor shower will be the Draconids, remnants of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, whose maximum will be next Monday and Tuesday, 7 and 8 October. EarthSky says that they will be best viewed just after dark, and that although unlikely to be one of their best years, it might not be a bad show since there won’t be a full moon. They’ll be most easily located by finding Ursa Major/The Plough, because Draco is just above the plough handle.
Update 10 August: Just a reminder that it’s time for the Perseids, with their maximum tomorrow and Monday. There’s information to help locate them HERE, but it seems one just needs to look towards the north east.
Update 27 July: Earth will pass through the Delta Aquariids this weekend, making for one of the more well-known summer meteor showers. Keep a look out from this weekend, when the maximum is expected around 30 July. There’s a waning moon so the night sky will still be fairly bright, but there should still be some shooting stars to see with the naked eye: some 20 to 30 an hour are expected. The Delta Aquariids are from the tail of comet 96P Machholz which loses remnants as it approaches the sun in its orbit.
The next shower will be the Perseids between 11 and 12 August, when the Delta Aquariids are likely still to be visible themselves. Have a look HERE for a sky map to help locate and identify them both.
January 2 2013: 2013’s meteor showers –
- January 3, before dawn, the Quadrantids
- April 22, before dawn, the Lyrids
- May 4-6, before dawn, the Eta Aquarids
- Late July and early August, the Delta Aquarids
- August 10-13, before dawn, the Perseids
- October 7, 2013 Draconids
- October 21, 2013 Orionids
- November 4, late night until dawn November 5, the South Taurids
- November 11, Late night until dawn November 12, the North Taurids
- November 16, late night until dawn November 17, the Leonids
- December 13-14, mid-evening until dawn, Geminids
Update 11 December 2012: This Thursday night/Friday morning will see the last meteor shower of any note this year with the December Geminid shower. Normally, at least 50 meteors an hour can be seen, and alongside the Perseids, the Geminids are considered to be one of the most prolific displays of the year. This year, there’ll be a new moon, so it’ll be dark on the peak night, which runs from around 9pm on Thursday until dawn on Friday, so there should be excellent viewing. As usual, however, a couple of nights either side of the peak should be impressive too, so we can start to keep an eye out from tonight! To find Gemini is really easy … just look for Orion, and Gemini starts right above the top of it.
Update 15 November: It’s the Leonids this time, starting now and lasting until 21 November, peaking this weekend. And hopefully it will be quite a peak, because these are moonless nights. If they’re cloudless too, we could be in for a real treat. The best time for viewing is just before dawn, so it’ll be an early start for some serious meteor gazers, and a very late one for others! Astronomers say that the Leonid shower has produced some of history’s most impressive displays, and that one doesn’t need to identify the constellation Leo to see them. For those who would like the astrophysical details, please have a look HERE. All the rest of us have to do, though, it seems, is look up. Fingers crossed!
Update 11 August: Just a reminder that the Perseids start tonight … maybe this time I’ll get to see one …
Posted 28 July: It’s time for the annual Perseid meteor shower again, a spectacle that’s said to be easily visible to the naked eye … though I’ve never managed to see any of the things! The phenomenon appears each year when the Earth passes through the cosmic remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet. This year, it seems, is a good year, because of a waning moon, and so we can expect to see up to 150 meteors an hour. The peak of the shower will be the nights of 11-12 and 12-13 August. There is an excellent sky map and pictures in portalhispano’s blog HERE, as well as in NASA’s site in English HERE.