[Contents] [Previous Page][Exit]


The following are up-to-date descriptive notes on eleven major showers. Morning date of maximum appears after the shower name. The rates mentioned were all obtained in dark skies with limiting magnitude 7.0.

QUADRANTIDS (Jan 3). Brief, intense maximum; good over less than one hemisphere in a given year. Northern latitudes heavily favored, radiant high declination and nights longer; but South better weather. Recent rates above 30/hr in southern Florida but near 70/hour in the North; both at favorable maxima. Over 100/hr hove been reported. Rates rise rapidly after 2 or 3 a.m. Medium-speed meteors with some trains. Little to see away from max night.

LYRIDS (April 22). Two- or three-day display; southern latitudes favored due to longer night. Rates to 15/hr, best after 3 a.m. Swift, short, some trains.

ETA AQUARIDS (May 5). Prolonged max, perhaps May 3-10 with good rates. South strongly favored, longer night plus higher radiant altitude. Best seen in southern hemisphere. Rates to 15/ hr south Florida, decreasing northward. Swift meteors, many long due to low radiant, some trains, must wait until after 3 a.m.

DELTA AQUARIDS (July 29-30). Rather broad max, peak somewhat indefinite. Another southern hemisphere shower, also good from U.S. Deep South with longer nights and higher radiants than North. Double radiant, North and South branches with latter more active. Combined rates from Deep South up to 20/hr, more commonly 15/hr. Swift meteors, usually not bright, few trains.

ALPHA CAPRICORNIDS (Aug 1 ). Diffuse, prolonged southern shower. Only a few meteors per hour at best, but slow and many brilliant. Trains rare. This shower and the previous one are both visible all night.

PERSEIDS (Aug 12). Readily-observed strong shower, during warm clear weather and vacations. Rates 40/hr after 2 a.m. Visible all night North, all but earliest p.m. hours South. Lower radiant in South offset by longer night, hence uniformly favorable. Rates seem undiminished even from southern Florida. Nights Aug 11-14 also very good, lesser rates from late July and to Aug 20 or so. Swift meteors, a fair number of bright ones, many trains.

ORIONIDS (Oct 21 ). Broad max, often undiminished to Oct. 25. Also good Oct 16-20 dwindles rapidly after Oct 25. Visible after midnight everywhere, best 2 a.m. to dawn, rates to 25/hr. Swift, many trains.

TAURIDS (Nov 3-12). Indefinite max, runs late Sept-late Dec. Visible all night everywhere. Rates over 10/hr max period, many slow fireballs. Trains usually from fireballs only. Best 11 p.m.-2 a.m. North-South branches, hard to separate.

LEONIDS (Nov. 17). Famous for storms in modern times. The last was 1966 with the next expected in 1999. Bears watching closely now. 1974 a surprise, 40/hr. Visible after 10 p.m. everywhere, best after 4 a.m. Very swift meteors, many fireballs, numerous trains. Nov. 16 sometimes good, otherwise few to see.

GEMINIDS (Dec 14). Strongest annual shower, visible all nlght everywhere. Excellent 12-3 a.m., rates over 70/hr. Dec 13 is strong as Perseids. Dec 9-12 also good; Dec 15 shower nearly disappears. Consistent fireball period for a day after absolute peak is passed. Medium-speed meteors, colorful and fairly bright, trains rare.

URSIDS (Dec 22). North-circumpolar shower, little-observed due to bad weather. North favored, rates to perhaps 10-15/hr. Medium-speed, some trains. Rather brief shower, nearly absent away from max night.

[Contents] [Previous Page] [Exit]