Meteor Shower Calendar

The meteor shower calendar is compiled by Alastair McBeath based on information in IMO Monograph No.2: Handbook for Visual Meteor Observers, edited by J├╝rgen Rendtel, Rainer Arlt and Alastair McBeath, IMO, 1995, additional material extracted from reliable data analyses produced since.

PDF Versions

The heart of the Calendar is the Working List of Visual Meteor Showers, thanks to regular updating from analyses using the IMO's Visual Meteor Database, the single most accurate listing available anywhere today for naked-eye meteor observing. Even this can never be a complete list of all meteor showers, since there are many showers which cannot be properly detected visually, and some which only photographic, radar, telescopic, or video observations can separate from the background sporadic meteors, present throughout the year.

The IMO's aims are to encourage, collect, analyze, and publish combined meteor data obtained from sites all over the globe in order to further our understanding of the meteor activity detectable from the Earth's surface. Results from only a few localized places can never provide such total comprehension, and it is thanks to the efforts of the many it IMO observers worldwide since 1988 that we have been able to achieve as much as we have to date. This is not a matter for complacency, however, since it is solely by the continued support of many people across the whole world that our steps towards constructing a better and more complete picture of the near-Earth meteoroid flux can proceed. This means that all meteor workers, wherever they are and whatever methods they use to record meteors, should follow the standard IMO observing guidelines when compiling their information, and submit their data promptly to the appropriate Commission for analysis.

Visual and photographic techniques remain popular for nightly meteor coverage (weather permitting), although both suffer considerably from the presence of moonlight. Telescopic observations are much less popular, but they allow the fine detail of shower radiant structures to be derived, and they permit very low activity showers to be accurately detected. Video methods continue to be dynamically applied as in the last few years, and are starting to bear considerable fruit. These have the advantages, and disadvantages, of both photographic and telescopic observing, plus some of their own, but are increasing in importance. Radio receivers can be utilized at all times, regardless of clouds, moonlight, or daylight, and provide the only way in which 24-hour meteor observing can be accomplished for most latitudes. Together, these methods cover virtually the entire range of meteoroid sizes, from the very largest fireball-producing events (using all-sky photographic and video patrols or visual observations) through to tiny dust grains producing extremely faint telescopic or radio meteors.

However and whenever you are able to observe, we wish you all a most successful year's work and very much look forward to receiving your data.

Clear skies!

Peak night
Jan 3-4

Quadrantids

Active from January 1st to January 10th

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.

Radiant: 15:18 +49.5° - ZHR: 120 - Velocity: 26 miles/sec (medium - 42.2km/sec) - Parent Object: 2003 EH (Asteroid)

Peak night
Apr 22-23

Lyrids

Active from April 16th to April 25th

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.

Radiant: 18:04 +34° - ZHR: 18 - Velocity: 30 miles/sec (medium - 48.4km/sec) - Parent Object: C/1861 G1 (Thatcher)

Peak night
May 6-7

Eta Aquariids

Active from April 19th to May 26th

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. 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. 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. From the equator to 25S they can produce rates of 40-60 per hour just before dawn at maximum. The longer nights in the southern hemisphere allows the radiant to rise higher in their sky. South of 25S the radiant altitude actually decreases. 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.

Radiant: 22:32 -1° - ZHR: 55 - Velocity: 42 miles/sec (swift - 66.9km/sec) - Parent Object: 1P/Halley

Peak night
Jul 27-28

Alpha Capricornids

Active from July 11th to August 10th

The Alpha Capricornids are active from July 11 through August with a "plateau-like" maximum centered on July 29. 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.

Radiant: 20:28 -10.2° - ZHR: 5 - Velocity: 15 miles/sec (slow - 24km/sec) - Parent Object: 169P/NEAT

Peak night
Jul 28-29

Delta Aquariids

Active from July 21st to August 23rd

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.

Radiant: 22:40 -16.4° - ZHR: 16 - Velocity: 26 miles/sec (medium - 42km/sec) - Parent Object: 96P/Machholz?

Peak night
Aug 12-13

Perseids

Active from July 13th to August 26th

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 13 to August 26. 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 Persesids 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.

Radiant: 03:12 +57.6° - ZHR: 100 - Velocity: 37 miles/sec (swift - 60km/sec) - Parent Object: 109P/Swift-Tuttle

Peak night
Oct 21-22

Orionids

Active from October 4th to November 14th

The Orionids are a medium strength shower that sometimes reaches high strength activity. In a normal year the Orionids produce 20-25 shower members at maximum. In exceptional years, such as 2006-2009, the peak rates were on par with the Perseids (50-75 per hour). At this time we are unable to predict exactly when the Orionids will be exception

Radiant: 06:20 +15.5° - ZHR: 25 - Velocity: 41 miles/sec (swift - 67km/sec) - Parent Object: 1P/Halley

Peak night
Oct 23-24

Southern Taurids

Active from September 7th to November 19th

The Southern Taurids are a long-lasting shower that reaches a barely noticeable maximum on October 9 or 10. 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.

Radiant: 02:08 +8.7° - ZHR: 5 - Velocity: 17 miles/sec (slow - 28km/sec) - Parent Object: 2P/Encke

Peak night
Nov 11-12

Northern Taurids

Active from October 19th to December 10th

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 an notable increase in the fireball activity. There seems to be a seven year periodicity with these fireballs. 2008 was the last remarkable year. Perhaps 2015 will be the next?

Radiant: 03:52 +22.7° - ZHR: 5 - Velocity: 18 miles/sec (medium - 30km/sec) - Parent Object: 2P/Encke

Peak night
Nov 17-18

Leonids

Active from November 5th to November 30th

The Leonids are best known for producing great meteor storms in the years of 1833, 1866, 1966, 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 will be no meteor storms, but perhaps several good displays of Leonid activity when rates are in excess of 100 per hour. The best we can hope for now until the year 2030 is peaks of around 15 shower members per hour and perhaps an occasional weak outburst when the earth passes near a debris trail. The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains.

Radiant: 10:08 +21.6° - ZHR: 15 - Velocity: 44 miles/sec (swift - 71km/sec) - Parent Object: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle

Peak night
Dec 13-14

Geminids

Active from December 4th to December 16th

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 10pm 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.

Radiant: 07:28 +32.2° - ZHR: 120 - Velocity: 22 miles/sec (medium - 35km/sec) - Parent Object: 3200 Phaethon (asteroid)

Peak night
Dec 21-22

Ursids

Active from December 17th to December 23rd

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.

Radiant: 14:28 +74.8° - ZHR: 10 - Velocity: 20 miles/sec (medium - 32km/sec) - Parent Object: 8P/Tuttle