March 25, 2015 – SPACE – 2015 is looking set to be a good year for meteor showing watching — with good peak-rates and nice dark skies being likely for most of the major showers of the year.
As a result I’ve compiled the below list outlining the best dates and times for watching the various major meteor showers of the year — the Geminids, Perseids, Draconids, Taurids, Lyrids, Orionids, Leonids, and Aquarids. As well as creating a handy inforgraphic (posted directly below). Enjoy.
Lyrids — April 22, 2015, Before Dawn
The Lyrid meteor shower is often one of the better meteor showers of the year — with typical years seeing roughly 10-20 meteors-per-hour at the peak. Outburst years that see that number climb as high as 100+ meteors-an-hour aren’t uncommon though — so something to keep in mind The Lyrid meteors themselves are often quite striking as well — being very bright usually, and often leaving trails behind.
The radiant point where the meteors seem to originate from is right next to the bright star Vega in the constellation of Lyra — which rises in the northeast portion of the sky during the month of April sometime after ~10pm. The meteor shower typically lasts from around April 16 until April 25.
In 2015 the morning that’ll see the meteor shower peak is the morning of April 22 — though either of the days/nights surrounding that date should put on a good show as well. Owing to the fact that the Moon will be setting in the early-evening hours around the time of the peak, 2015 should be a pretty good year for the Lyrids — with nice dark skies expected.
Eta Aquarids (Aquariids) — May 6, 2015, Before Dawn
The Eta Aquarids make for a pretty good meteor shower waning experience most years — with those in Southern Hemisphere getting a much better how than those in the Northern Hemisphere.
As far as the Northern Hemisphere goes, from the southern US you can expect to usually see 10-20 meteors-an-hour at the peak — with that number climbing the further south you go, and dropping the further north that you go. From the Southern Hemisphere though… You can often expect to see significantly higher numbers — depending on your exact location.
As far as the best time to watch, that’s the same regardless of which hemisphere you’re located in — 1-2 hours before dawn is pretty much the perfect time for this meteor shower. The radiant point of this meteor shower is right near the star Eta, in the constellation of Aquarius — which rises at this time of year from the east, right around 4am local time.
As far as 2015 goes, the relatively bright phase that the Moon is in at this time will limit visibility somewhat.
Delta Aquarids (Aquariids) — July 27-30, 2015, Before Dawn
Just as with the Eta Aquarids, the Delta Aquarids are more of a Southern Hemisphere meteor shower than a Northern Hemisphere one — but you can certainly see some meteors from either hemisphere (and the tropics get a good show it’s worth noting). When watching from a dark location, 10-20 meteors-an-hour is a good approximation for what you can expect to see most years.
In contrast to most other meteor showers, the peak of the Delta Aquarids is spread-out across multiple days — with pretty much all of late-July/early-August seeing a good show. The best time to watch for them is pretty consistent across this broad-peak though — 1-2 hours before dawn is usually the best time to watch. As far as the radiant-point goes, it’s right next to the star Skat/Delta in the constellation of Aquarius.
In 2015 the Moon will probably be drowning out many of the fainter Delta Aquarids, until it sets in the early-morning hours — owing to this, the hours right before dawn are probably the best ones for observation.
Perseids — August 11-12, 2015, Before Dawn
The Perseids meteor shower is consistently one of the best of the year, and, owing to the time of the year that it occurs (mid-summer), it’s probably the most popular one. You can pretty much always count on the Perseids to put in a good show (in the Northern Hemisphere anyways).
The peak of the shower usually sees a peak-rate of 50-100+ meteors-an-hour when seen from a dark rural location. While you can expect to see meteors throughout the whole night, the early morning hours before sunrise are usually the best time to watch for them.
The radiant point for the Perseids is, of course, to be found in the constellation of Perseus — but given how prolific this meteor shower is, it really doesn’t matter where your eyes are directed. Also worth noting, is the fact that Perseids often leave persistent trails behind, making it even easier to spot them than would otherwise be the case.
In 2015, the Moon won’t be rising during the peak of the meteor shower until roughly around the time of the dawn — meaning that 2015 will be an excellent year for the Perseids, with a very dark sky available throughout the whole night.
Draconids — October 8, 2015, After Nightfall & Early Evening
The Draconids are an excellent, if somewhat strange, meteor shower. In contrast to most other meteor showers, the best time to watch the Draconids is right around the time that darkness falls — no need to stay out until the early morning hours, or to wake up really early in the morning. All that you have to do is head out after dinner and relax in comfortable fall weather.
Worth noting is that the Draconids are another of the meteor showers that gives a much better show in the Northern Hemisphere than in the southern one. Also worth noting, while most years don’t see numbers any higher than the 10-20 meteors-an-hour that it often peaks at, the meteor shower does occasionally see big outbursts — sometimes even hitting peak-rates of 400-500+ meteors-an-hour.
The constellation that the meteors will appear to originate from in this case is that of Draco, the dragon — which will be high in night’s sky by the time of sunset.
While the night of October 8 will be probably see the absolute peak in 2015, October 7 will probably offer a good show as well. With moonrise not set to occur on the date of the peak until fairly late at night 2015 should be a good year for the Draconids. And who knows, maybe an outburst is a possibility this year?
Orionids — October 22, 2015, Before Dawn
The Orionids are a meteor shower of a usually moderate nature — you can usually expect to see 10-20 meteors-an-hour at its peak, when seen from a dark location. The best time to watch for meteors is a couple of hours before dawn, but really anytime after midnight is good. This year will see pretty good viewing conditions as the Moon will be setting se time before the peak — leaving the skies nice and dark.
The meteors themselves are often striking, though, despite the shower’s moderate nature — they often leave persistent trails, and fireballs aren’t uncommon.
The peak this year will be in the early-morning hours of October 22, but the surrounding mornings/nights should be good as well — just remember, between midnight and dawn is usually the best time.
The radiant-point do this meteor shower is, of course, the constellation of Orion — the hunter. The easiest way to find said constellation is to look for the large, bright reddish star known as Betelgeuse (yes, this is where the movie name came from).
Southern Taurids — November 4-5, 2015, Throughout the Night/Early-Morning
The Southern Taurids aren’t known for being prolific, but they are known for how often they seem to produce large super-bright fireballs — which in some ways is a lot more fun to watch for then normal meteors.
Owing to the Moon that’ll be present (to some degree) in the night’s sky during the peak this year, the fainter meteors will be drowned out by moonlight — but this won’t affect fireball visibility much, they should be easy to see regardless.
The Taurid peak is spread out pretty evenly across the weeks surrounding it, so if you find yourself unable to go out on the expected peak nights, it’s not that important — any of the surrounding days will do. Said peak is expected on the night/morning of November 4-5. Best viewing hours are usually between midnight and dawn but earlier in the night sees some activity as well.
Northern Taurids — November 12-13, 2015, Throughout the Night/Early-Morning
As with the Southern Taurids, the peak of the Northern Taurids is spread out pretty evenly across the week or so before and after the absolute peak — so, really, anytime that you want to go out should work out alright. The two Taurid meteors showers share more in common than just that though — they also both peak around ~10 meteors-an-hour, with large fireballs being relatively common in both.
The exact peak in 2015 is expected to occur on the night/morning of November 12-13 — the best time for observation being right around midnight, right between the 12th and 13th days of the month.
The radiant-points for the two Taurid meteor showers are, unsurprisingly, located in the constellation of Taurus, the bull — which will reach its highest point in the sky right around midnight at the time of the peak.
Leonids — November 17-18, 2015, After Midnight/Before Dawn
The Leonids meteor shower is consistently one of the better ones of the year — and at various points has been know to put on truly spectacular shows some years (meteor storm years). A good example of that being the Leonids meteor shower in 1966 — which saw several thousand meteors-a-minute fall at its peak.
Most years though are more modest, with a reliable peak-rate being somewhere around 10-20 meteors-an-hour. The radiant-point for this meteor shower is to be found in the constellation of Leo, of course.
This year the peak is expected to occur on the night/morning of November 17/18 — with the best times for observation being after midnight until a few hours before the sunrise.
Geminids — December 13-14, 2015, From Sunset To Sunrise
In recent years the Geminids meteor shower has tended to be the best one of the year — both for those in the Northern Hemisphere, and also for those in the Southern Hemisphere. And 2015 is set to follow in that tradition, with a Moon-less sky at the peak of the meteor shower.
At its peak this year, the Geminids shower should offer a peak-rate of ~50-100 meteors-an-hour, as visible from a dark rural location. Worth noting, is that the Geminid meteors tend to be quite bright, and some of the most visible ones of the year.
The peak this year is likely to occur in the night/early-morning of December 13/14 — really anytime from sunset to sunrise is likely to be good to see some meteors.
The radiant-point for the Geminids is in the constellation of Gemini, the Twins — which is a pretty easy to find constellation owing to the presence of two very-bright stars, Castor and Pollux. – Science Heathen.