A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky called Radiant. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. The Meteor Data Center of the IAU lists over 900 suspected meteor showers of which about 100 are well established.
The meteor showers listed below are the easiest to observe and provide the most activity. Particular attention should be noted to the time and moonlight conditions. All these showers are best seen after midnight. Some are not even visible until after midnight. Showers that peak with the moon’s phase greater than one half illuminated (first quarter to last quarter) will be affected by moonlight and difficult to observe.
While the time each shower is best seen remains much the same year after year, the moonlight conditions change considerably from one year to the next. As we approach the date of each shower's maximum, be sure to consult the latest AMS article about Meteor Showers, which will provide in depth information on each shower and how to best view it.
When is the next meteor shower?
Well, you need to know that there are currently 2 active meteors showers:
Active until December 8th
Peak: Nov 5-6 2023 (Moon 44% full.)
Active until December 24th
Peak: Dec 13-14 2023 (Moon 1% full.)
Here is the list of the next major meteor showers that will occur after that:
Status: Active from December 13th to December 24th
Peak: Dec 21-22 2023 (Moon 74% full.)
Status: Active from December 26th to January 16th
Peak: Jan 3-4 2024 (Moon 51% full.)
Nov 5-6, 2023
Southern TauridsCurrently active
Active from September 23rd to December 8th, 2023
The Southern Taurids are a long-lasting shower that several peaks during its activity period. The shower is active for more than two months but rarely produces more than five shower members per hour, even at maximum activity. The Taurids (both branches) are rich in fireballs and are often responsible for increased number of fireball reports from September through November.
Next Peak - The Southern Taurids will next peak on the Nov 5-6, 2023 night. On this night, the moon will be 44% full.***
Dec 13-14, 2023
Active from November 19th to December 24th, 2023
The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars. This is the one major shower that provides good activity prior to midnight as the constellation of Gemini is well placed from 22:00 onward. The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored. Due to their medium-slow velocity, persistent trains are not usually seen. These meteors are also seen in the southern hemisphere, but only during the middle of the night and at a reduced rate.
Next Peak - The Geminids will next peak on the Dec 13-14, 2023 night. On this night, the moon will be 1% full.***
Dec 21-22, 2023
UrsidsNext period of activity: December 13th, 2023 to December 24th, 2023
The Ursids are often neglected due to the fact it peaks just before Christmas and the rates are much less than the Geminds, which peaks just a week before the Ursids. Observers will normally see 5-10 Ursids per hour during the late morning hours on the date of maximum activity. There have been occasional outbursts when rates have exceeded 25 per hour. These outbursts appear unrelated to the perihelion dates of comet 8P/Tuttle. This shower is strictly a northern hemisphere event as the radiant fails to clear the horizon or does so simultaneously with the start of morning twilight as seen from the southern tropics.
Next Peak - The Ursids will next peak on the Dec 21-22, 2023 night. On this night, the moon will be 74% full.***
Jan 3-4, 2024
QuadrantidsNext period of activity: December 26th, 2023 to January 16th, 2024
The Quadrantids have the potential to be the strongest shower of the year but usually fall short due to the short length of maximum activity (6 hours) and the poor weather experienced during early January. The average hourly rates one can expect under dark skies is 25. These meteors usually lack persistent trains but often produce bright fireballs. Due to the high northerly declination (celestial latitude) these meteors are not well seen from the southern hemisphere.
Next Peak - The Quadrantids will next peak on the Jan 3-4, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 51% full.***
Apr 22-23, 2024
LyridsNext period of activity: April 15th, 2024 to April 29th, 2024
The Lyrids are a medium strength shower that usually produces good rates for three nights centered on the maximum. These meteors also usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs. These meteors are best seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant is high in the sky at dawn. Activity from this shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate.
Next Peak - The Lyrids will next peak on the Apr 22-23, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 99% full.***
May 5-6, 2024
eta AquariidsNext period of activity: April 15th, 2024 to May 27th, 2024
The Eta Aquariids are a strong shower when viewed from the southern tropics. From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. Activity is good for a week centered the night of maximum activity. These are swift meteors that produce a high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs.
Next Peak - The eta Aquariids will next peak on the May 5-6, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 6% full.***
Jul 30-31, 2024
Southern delta AquariidsNext period of activity: July 18th, 2024 to August 21st, 2024
The Delta Aquariids are another strong shower best seen from the southern tropics. North of the equator the radiant is located lower in the southern sky and therefore rates are less than seen from further south. These meteors produce good rates for a week centered on the night of maximum. These are usually faint meteors that lack both persistent trains and fireballs.
Next Peak - The Southern delta Aquariids will next peak on the Jul 30-31, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 20% full.***
Jul 30-31, 2024
alpha CapricornidsNext period of activity: July 7th, 2024 to August 15th, 2024
The Alpha Capricornids are active from July 7 through August 15 with a "plateau-like" maximum centered on July 31st. This shower is not very strong and rarely produces in excess of five shower members per hour. What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period. This shower is seen equally well on either side of the equator.
Next Peak - The alpha Capricornids will next peak on the Jul 30-31, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 20% full.***
Aug 12-13, 2024
PerseidsNext period of activity: July 14th, 2024 to September 1st, 2024
The Perseids are the most popular meteor shower as they peak on warm August nights as seen from the northern hemisphere. The Perseids are active from July 14 to September 1. They reach a strong maximum on August 12 or 13, depending on the year. Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 shower members per hour at maximum. The Perseids are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during its numerous returns to the inner solar system. They are called Perseids since the radiant (the area of the sky where the meteors seem to originate) is located near the prominent constellation of Perseus the hero when at maximum activity.
Next Peak - The Perseids will next peak on the Aug 12-13, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 54% full.***
Oct 21-22, 2024
OrionidsNext period of activity: September 26th, 2024 to November 22nd, 2024
The Orionids are a medium strength shower that sometimes reaches high strength activity. In a normal year the Orionids produce 10-20 shower members at maximum. In exceptional years, such as 2006-2009, the peak rates were on par with the Perseids (50-75 per hour). Recent displays have produced low to average displays of this shower.
Next Peak - The Orionids will next peak on the Oct 21-22, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 74% full.***
Nov 11-12, 2024
Northern TauridsNext period of activity: October 13th, 2024 to December 2nd, 2024
This shower is much like the Southern Taurids, just active a bit later in the year. When the two showers are active simultaneously in late October and early November, there is sometimes a notable increase in the fireball activity. There seems to be a seven year periodicity with these fireballs. 2008 and 2015 both produced remarkable fireball activity. 2022 may be the next opportunity.
Next Peak - The Northern Taurids will next peak on the Nov 11-12, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 79% full.***
Nov 17-18, 2024
LeonidsNext period of activity: November 3rd, 2024 to December 2nd, 2024
The Leonids are best known for producing meteor storms in the years of 1833, 1866, 1966, 1999, and 2001. These outbursts of meteor activity are best seen when the parent object, comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, is near perihelion (closest approach to the sun). Yet it is not the fresh material we see from the comet, but rather debris from earlier returns that also happen to be most dense at the same time. Unfortunately, it appears that the earth will not encounter any dense clouds of debris until 2099. Therefore, when the comet returns in 2031 and 2064, there may not be any meteor storms, but perhaps several good displays of Leonid activity when rates are in excess of 100 per hour. Each passing year also presents new possibilities from old debris fields. In 2023, Mikiya Sato finds an encounter with the 1733 dust trail on November 19/20, between 23h 53min and 00h 54min Universal Time. The minimum distance is quite large (-0.0002 AU) and the ejection velocity is high, therefore rates are expected to be low..The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains.
Next Peak - The Leonids will next peak on the Nov 17-18, 2024 night. On this night, the moon will be 94% full.***