Meteor showers are my favorite thing about the night sky so I decided to put together a listing of all of the meteor showers of 2013 for you. I was also nice enough to include info beyond that so take a read and share with others. If you want to find constellations in the night sky you may need this amazing easy to use tool. Find constellations.
January 3rd & 4th – Quadrantids Meteor Shower
40 per hour
The Quadrantids were first discovered in the 1830′s by Adolphe Quetelet of the Brussels Observatory. The shower will be visible in the constellation Bootes near the Big Dipper.
This is an above average shower with up to 40 meteors per hour during the peak.
The shower usually peaks on the night of January 3rd and morning of January 4th, but some meteors can be visible from January 1st through the 5th.
The actually originate from the same comet that the Geminids come from and have been orbiting the sun for hundreds of years. They typically enter the Earth’s atmosphere around 90,000 miles per hour and burn up 50 miles above the Earth’s surface high up in our atmosphere.
April 21st & 22nd – Lyrids Meteor Shower
20 per hour
The Lyrids are an average shower the usually produce about 20 meteors per hour during the peak from the constellation Lyra. This meteor shower can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last in the night sky for several seconds. The peaks is usually on April 21st late night through April 22nd early morning. However some meteors can be visible from April 16th though the 25th. The moon could be an issue for good viewing this year, hiding the fainter meteors in its bright glare. The moon will set before sunrise so that you will get some dark skies.
May 5th and 6th – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
10 per hour
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower is a light shower coming from the constellation Aquarius only producing about 10 meteors per hour at the peak. The peak is usually on May 5th & 6th, but they can be viewed any morning from May 4th through the 7th.
July 28th and 29th – Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower
20 per hour
The Delta Aquarids are an average meteor shower which can produce about 20 meteors per hour during the peak. The peak is on July 28th & 29th but some meteors can be seen from July 18th through August 18th. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius.
August 12th & 13th – Perseids Meteor Shower
60 per hour
The Perseids meteor shower is one of the best meteor showers to watch and it can produce up to 60 meteors per hour during the peak. The peak usually occurs on the night of August 13th and morning of the 14th, but you may can see some meteors any time from July 23rd to August 22nd. The showers focus is in the constellation Perseus. This year the moon should set before midnight providing optimum viewing conditions for an amazing display of shooting stars. Don’t miss out!
October 21st & 22nd – Orionids Meteor Shower
20 per hour
The Orionids is an average meteor shower producing about 20 meteors per hour during the peak. It usually peaks on the 21st, but is highly irregular. The actual peak can happen any morning between October 20th and 24th. Overall you may see some meteors any time between October 17th and the 25th. They will appear in the east sky.
November 17th & 18th – Leonids Meteor Shower
40 per hour
The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers of the year and can produce an average of 40 meteors per hour during the peak. This shower has a major peak every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last meteor storm was in 2001. The cause of this is these meteors are debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle which passes the earth every 33 years leaving behind a large amount of debris. Some times it has been dubbed a meteor storm due to the high amount of shooting stars.
These are also bright and fierce because the comet orbits in the opposite direction the debris hits the Earth’s atmosphere with a higher rate of impact for a spectacular show.
The Leonids usually peaks on the night of November 17th and morning of the 18th but you may be able to see some meteors from November 13th through the 20th.
This year there will be a full moon which may inhibit it from being a good show but you should still attempt to watch this one as it is generally a good one. Be sure to look towards the constellation Leo after midnight.
December 13th & 15th – Geminids Meteor Shower
60 per hour
My personal favorite and considered by many to be the best meteor shower of the year. The Geminids produce up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour during the peak. The peak of the shower usually occurs around the night of December 13th and morning of the 14th, but some meteors can be visible from December 6th through the 19th. They appear to come from the constellation Gemini but I have seen them all over the night sky in multiple directions.
The gibbous moon could be an issue this time around. However with up to 60 meteors per hour this will still be a good show.
What is a shooting star? Or Meteor Shower?
A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a large number of meteors are seen entering the atmosphere from one point in the sky.
Meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris or space junk called meteoroids entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds.
Believe it or not most meteors that we see are smaller than a grain of sand. Which is why they are no threat and almost all of them disintegrate in the atmosphere causing the shooting star effect leaving a bright path or streak across the night sky. This is also why they rarely hit the Earth’s surface.
Most showers are left over dust and particles from comets that orbit our sun. Once a year we travel through this path of debris making for a spectacular show.
Best Viewing Time?
As always with meteor showers they are best viewed far away from city lights and other light pollution. Best viewing is when the moon is not up yet or has already set.
The best time to view any meteor shower is in the late night pre-dawn hours. This is because the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun catches more meteors as we move through space on our yearly orbit.
What we see and call a shooting star is the meteoroid entering the Earths atmosphere and burning up.