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Newest 'meteor-shower' Questions

Meteor showers in 2021

NameDate of PeakActivity Period
QuadrantidsNight of January 2/3Dec 26-Jan 16
LyridsNight of April 21/22Apr 15-Apr 29
Eta AquaridsNight of May 4/5Apr 15-May 27
PerseidsNight of August 11/12Jul 14-Sep 1
OrionidsNight of October 21/22Oct 02-Nov 07
LeonidsNights of November 16/17Nov 06-Nov 30
Southern TauridsNight of October 9/10Sep 10–Nov 20
Northern TauridsNight of November 11/12Oct 20–Dec 10
GeminidsNight of December 13Nov 30-Dec 17
UrsidsNight of December 22Dec 17-Dec 24

Video

Where in the sky would I need to look?

The meteor shower may be visible in the southern sky.(Getty Images: Amiruddin Misman/EyeEm)

Look about 30 to 45 degrees above the southern horizon just after sunset on September 29, and a bit further towards the east on October 6 and 7.

Predicting where in the sky it comes from is based on what direction the meteors are moving and what direction the Earth is moving.

By a quirk of fate, the northern hemisphere gets the best view of most meteor showers.

"The angle at which those paths are crossing Earth's orbit is essentially random. But it just happens that the densest trails we are running into hit the Earth coming down from the north towards the south."

But this meteor shower is coming up from the south, so the meteors will appear from a point in the southern sky.

It's unclear where that point will appear, which is why the meteor shower is not currently named after a constellation.

The best bet is Ara, a small constellation between the Southern Cross and Sagittarius, aka "The Teapot".

The further south you are, the higher in the sky Ara will be through the night.

"I think it's likely to be from a certain patch of the sky, but there are two or three constellations there — it's a little bit woolly," Professor Horner says.

May 10: Eta-Lyrids

  • Designation: 145 ELY
  • ZHR: 3
  • Moon illumination: 51%
  • Active: May 3 – 14
  • Radiant location: constellation Lyra
  • Visible from: Northern Hemisphere

The Eta-Lyrid (η-Lyrids) meteor shower is relatively weak but interesting to astronomers because of its possible relation to Comet C/1983 H1 IRAS-Araki-Alcock. The comet was last seen in 1983, and passed the Earth at a distance of 5,000,000 km, which is the closest a comet had approached for the last 200 years.

In 2022, the Eta-Lyrids’ peak is expected on May 10. The radiant area is favorably on view all night for the observers from the Northern hemisphere.

April 22: Lyrids

  • Designation: 006 LYR
  • ZHR: 18
  • Moon illumination: 55%
  • Active: April 14 – 30
  • Radiant location: constellation Lyra
  • Visible from: Northern Hemisphere

The Lyrids is one of the long-known meteor showers that has been observed and reported annually since 687 BC. The peak of the Lyrids in 2022 is on April 22.

The Lyrids’ meteors are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. The maximum number of meteors typically varies from 5 to 20 per hour, but once in 60 years the shower intensifies, resulting in an April Lyrid meteor outburst with activity rate up to 90 meteors per hour (as seen in 1982 and 1922). Next time it will happen in 2042 – hopefully, we’ll be still keeping you updated on the event via our site or Sky Tonight app.

The “Radiant” of a Meteor Shower

All of the meteors in a meteor shower come from the same direction in space. From the ground, they appear to radiate from single location in the sky, called the radiant. It’s like driving your car through a tunnel: some parts of the tunnel pass on your left, or right, over head or beneath the car. In this case the “radiant” would be “straight ahead.” Meteor showers are named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate. For example, the “Geminids” appear to originate in the constellation Gemini. (See Figure 1.)

How to Observe a Meteor Shower

First you need to find out when the meteor shower is (See the table above). Next you want to find a place with a clear view of the entire sky. Dark areas well away from any city lights are best. Avoid places where vehicle headlights will momentarily dazzle you. The best approach is to recline in a lawn chair or on the ground with a pillow so you are comfortably looking up. Knowledge of the constellation where the radiant lies may be useful but not necessary: meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. Then relax and gaze into the heavens. Binoculars are not necessary to see the meteors but may be helpful in seeing the vapor trail after an especially bright meteor. Other useful equipment is insect repellant in summer. A flashlight can be useful but be sure it has a red filter to avoid losing your dark adaptation when using it.

In general, we can see more meteors after midnight. Here is why. The earth is rotating as it moves through the dust trail of a comet. In the evening we are on the side of the earth that is shielded from the dust trail, but in the morning we are on the side of the earth that is rotating towards the dust trail. It’s like driving through the rain: you always get more rain on the windshield than on the rear window. (See Figure 5.)

Moonless nights are best because the moon brightens the sky. With a full moon, the eye cannot become completely dark-adapted. Full adaptation takes about 20 minutes.

Maybe you are reading this article because you are getting ready to watch a meteor shower. I hope that you have fun and enjoy the experience. If you would like to see a meteor shower get your calendar out and mark it for one of the showers listed in the table above. Now that you know how meteor showers work you will not want to miss it.

Where should I go next?

If you like these sorts of interactive visualizations, take a look at Ian Webster‘s other tools, including Pluto, ancient Earth, or asteroids!

More Fun Meteor shower facts

  • There are approximately 30 meteor showers visible to us on Earth each year.
  • Fireballs are exceptionally bright meteors that are even brighter than the planet Venus. While Venus has an apparent magnitude of -4.14, fireballs can reach up to magnitude -3.
  • The Lyrid meteor shower becomes more intense every 60 years. This is because the planets direct the dust trail of comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher into Earth’s orbital path.
  • Aside from the Earth, other astronomical bodies in the solar system also experience meteor showers. However, the resulting light shows will be different depending on their atmospheres.
  • Meteoroids and micrometeoroids can collide with man-made spacecraft in space. Because of that, these spacecraft use shields like the Whipple shield. The International Space Station has about a hundred of them.
  • More than 60,000 meteorites have been found on Earth. Some of the rarest of them are meteorites from the Moon and Mars. Out of the total number, only about 126 of them are from Mars.
  • Because they are rare, lunar and Martian meteorites are also very expensive. They are often sold in small slices. According to geology.com, these rare objects can cost around $1,000 per gram or even more. They cost way much higher than gold.

Sources:

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/meteors-and-meteorites/in-depth/ (https:///astronomy-essentials/earthskys-meteor-shower-guide/) https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/741990main_ten_meteor_facts.pdf https:///wiki/Meteoroid https://blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/tag/taurid-meteor/

Image Sources:

Meteor showers: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1532053413580-98b455b68458?ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&ixlib=rb-1.2.1&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1170&q=80

Shooting stars: https:///wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Meteor_falling_courtesy_NASA.gif

Meteoroids, Meteors, Meteorites: https:///wikipedia/commons/6/63/Meteoroid_meteor_meteorite.gif

Quadrantids: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1901/Cuadrantidas30estelasDLopez1024.jpg

Lyrids: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/2005/Lyrids_Horalek_960_annotated.jpg

Eta Aquarids: https://blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/wp-content/uploads/sites/193/2013/05/1037759main_eta.jpg

Perseids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a1/Perseid_meteor_shower.jpg/1280px-Perseid_meteor_shower.jpg

Orionids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/Orionid_Meteor%281%29.JPG/1280px-Orionid_Meteor%281%29.JPG

Southern Taurids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/02/Taurid_Meteor_Shower_-_Joshua_Tree%2C_California_-_6_Nov._2015.jpg/1280px-Taurid_Meteor_Shower_-_Joshua_Tree%2C_California_-_6_Nov._2015.jpg

Northern Taurids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Tauride-20201204.jpg/1280px-Tauride-20201204.jpg

Leonids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a7/Leonid_Meteor.jpg/800px-Leonid_Meteor.jpg

Geminids: https:///wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0d/Geminids.jpg/1200px-Geminids.jpg

Ursids: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EpccJhYXEAEHSFq?format=jpg&name=900×900

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