“shooting stars” can be an enjoyable, if
unpredictable, outdoor activity during meteor showers. You may see only
a few fleeting meteors, or you may see several, or even a fireball!
Best times for observing is after midnight.
The Leonid meteor shower begins the middle of November and is best
viewed under clear dark skies. It
from the constellation Leo the Lion, which is found in the
heavens after midnight in the Northern Hemisphere.
This shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history.
The 1966 Leonid shower produced thousands of meteors per minute during
a span of 15 minutes on the morning of November 17, 1966.
The Leonid meteor shower of 1833, depicted over Niagara Falls in
artwork by Detlev Van Ravenswaay on November 13, produced an estimated
240,000 meteors during the nine hours over North America east of
the Rocky Mountains. The New York Evening Post carried a series of
articles on the event including reports from Canada to Jamaica. Joseph Smith,
founder of Mormonism, noted in
his journal that this event was a literal fulfillment of the word of
God and a sure sign that the coming of Christ was close at hand.
This week-long meteor shower usually produces around 5-20 meteors
each hour, except once in about every 33 years when thousands can be
Leonid meteor shower of 1833
to Watch a Meteor Shower
warmly: Since most showers occur during the coldest hours of
night, be sure to to wear extra layers to ward off the chill.
comfortable. A reclining outdoor chair or blanket will make a long
night of meteor-watching more enjoyable, and your neck muscles will
thank you in the morning.
straight up. The best way to watch a meteor shower is not to
strain your eyes at the shower's radiant — the patch of the
where it appears to emanate from. Looking straight up is the best
method to see any meteors or fireballs during the night.
mid-December, the Geminid shower often
produces 50 or more meteors per hour.
This meteor shower occurs every April as Earth passes through
dusty flakes of the broken comet called "Comet Thatcher."
Observation of the Lyrids have been for at least 2,600 years, the
longest of any shower. The oldest descriptions are by a Chinese
observer who wrote that “stars fell like rain” on
is a seen mainly in the Northern
Hemisphere at the
beginning of the new year (January 1-6). The Quadrantids are streams of
debris shed by the asteroid
2003 EH1, which may actually be the remains of a long-dead comet.
Quadrantids have a maximum rate
about 80 meteors per hour,
varying between 60 and 200.
meteor shower by finding the Big Dipper (Ursa
then looking further north (roughly "up" if the Big Dipper were holding
liquid). The constellation Draco ("Dragon") has a "head" of four bright
stars that look a little bit like the four stars that make up the cup
end of the Big Dipper. Look for meteors between the end of the
Dipper's handle and Draco's head.
Meteor Shower, Milky Way and Aurora
The night is
cold and moonless. Stars twinkle in frosty stillness. My
breath rises from my lips as a thick fog, circling my head before it
dissipates into the silence.
in the dark, standing on a butte more than a mile from
the nearest street light, because there's a chance of showers. Meteor
stars, or meteors, are not uncommon. You can catch site of one
almost any night of the year, and some are even large enough and bright
enough to break the light of day. But showers of meteors -- when long
streaks of flame arc across the heavens not once, but many times -- are
another matter. Most of these are caused by clouds of dust left in the
path of passing comets and they come round again like the seasons, year
Shower Calendar for 2016
(60-200 per hour)
Lyrids (10-20 per hour)
Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower (30-60 per hour)
June Bootids (10 - 20 per hour)
Delta Aquariids (20 per hour)
Alpha Capricornids (5 per hour)
Perseids (60-80 per hour)
Draconids (5-100 per hour)
Orionids (10 - 20 per hour)
20 per hour)
(100 per hour)
Meteor Shower mouse pad
Meteor Shower pillow case
Do Stars Clean
Themselves with Meteor Showers?
Meteor Shower above the Zagros Mountains