Annual meteor showers

Shower Name Date of Maximum Normal Limits Rate/
Hour
Description
Quadrantids Jan 3-4 Jan 1-6 60 Blue meteors with fine trains
Lyrids April 22 April 16-25 10-15 Bright fast meteors, some with trains. Associated with Comet Thatcher
Eta Aquarids May 5 Apr 24-May 20 35 Low in sky. Associated with Comet Halley
Capricornids July 8-26 July-
August
5 Bright meteors
Alpha Capricornids Aug 2 July 15-
Aug 25
5 Yellow slow fireballs
Perseids Aug 12-13 July 23-
Aug 20
75 Many bright fast meteors with trains. Associated with Comet Swift-Tuttle (1737, 1862, 1992)
Orionids Oct 22 Oct 16-27 25 Fast with fine trains. Associated with Comet Halley
Taurids Nov 4 Oct 20-
Nov 30
10 Very slow meteors
Leonids Nov 17-18 Nov 15-20 Variable (30-300) Fast bright meteors with fine trains. Associated with Comet Tempel-Tuttle
Geminids Dec 14 Dec 7-16 75 Plenty of bright meteors, few trains
Quadrantid meteors (detail) Quadrantid shower, January 1995. Image: Sirko Molau, IMO, Archenhold-Sternwarte, NASA Leonid animation A series of frames animated to show the dispersal of a Leonid meteor in the early hours of 19 November 2001. Credit: Cheng Huang-Ming

Dates given above may vary slightly from year to year. Some showers give much better shows every few years. The presence of a bright moon will severely reduce the chances of seeing meteors.

The best time to see a meteor show is always between midnight and dawn.

About meteor showers

Many meteors originated in material stripped from comets by radiation from the Sun. This material continues to follow the orbit of the originating comet but gets spread out along the orbit. If the path of the Earth passes through this stream of particles then we will see many meteors whose paths in the sky will appear to radiate from one point in the sky (the radiant) which is in the direction from which the stream is coming.

Some meteor showers are associated with known comets while others are remnants of comets that are unknown. Most showers produce about 20 or so meteors per hour but some (very rare) showers can produce thousands of meteors over a period of less than an hour.

Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate.