Meteor Showers

Meteor Frequency

Meteor showers are annual peaks in activity that occur when the Earth crosses a stream of debris left behind by another object, usually a comet. Many showers go through cycles of increased and decreased activity depending on how recently their parent body was near the Earth in its orbit. The Leonids are well known for this effect, with the parent body, Comet Tempel-Tuttle, having a 33-year period. Consequently, for a few encounters every 33 years the Leonids can produce impressive numbers of meteors, while it remains a fairly minor shower most of the remaining years.

Meteors that are part of a shower appear to follow paths that point back to a common point in the sky, called the radiant. That's because all of the meteors are traveling in the same direction when they strike the Earth's atmosphere, so the radiant is really just the vanishing point. If you've ever driven a car when it was snowing, you will have noticed the same effect, with the snowflakes appearing to come from a single point in front of the car. Meteor showers are named for the constellation that their radiant lies in.

This chart shows meteor activity as recorded over twenty years by the Cloudbait allsky camera. The major showers are very obvious, as is their uneven distribution throughout the year. The Leonids appear to be more active than they really are. That's because this data includes 2001 and 2002, when the Leonids were unusually active. In fact, the Orionids, Perseids, and Geminids are all much more active showers than the Leonids. As more data is added to this chart over the years, the Leonid peak slowly drops to its normal level.

Meteor Radiants

This chart is a density plot showing the radiant positions of 8933 meteors recorded by the Cloudbait camera from mid-2004 to mid-2007. The locations of major showers are clearly seen.

This calendar shows the peak dates for major and moderate showers in 2024. ZHR indicates the average Zenith Hourly Rate, or the number of meteors you could expect to see overhead in an hour from a dark location. This number is sometimes quite variable. Observing conditions are best when there is no interference from the Moon (when the phase is small). An up arrow indicates a waxing moon, which will dominate the earlier hours of the evening; a down arrow indicates a waning moon, which will interfere more with showers in the early morning hours.

2024 Calendar of Meteor Showers

Shower Peak (UT) Days Duration ZHR Moon Phase
Quadrantids January 4 9h 0.6 120 48% ↓
Lyrids April 22 7h 1.3 20 97% ↑
Eta Aquarids May 5 21h 5 60 7% ↓
S Delta Aquarids July 28 23h 8 20 41% ↓
Perseids August 12 14h 2 90 49% ↑
Orionids October 21 6h 2 20 81% ↓
S Taurids November 5 7h 15 10 13% ↑
N Taurids November 12 6h 15 15 82% ↑
Leonids November 17 12h 1 20 96% ↓
Geminids December 14 1h 1 120 98% ↑
Ursids December 22 10h 0.5 10 55% ↓

Past Meteor Shower Database

I have collected data for many past meteor showers. Select any from the dropdown below.