Meteor showers, often called shooting stars, are a captivating spectacle observed when the Earth passes through a cloud of debris, known as a trail, left behind by a comet or asteroid as it orbits the Sun.
Typically, these occurrences happen around the same time every year. The latest addition to the annual list of meteor showers began in 2014, called the Camelopardalids.
Below is a list of most notable meteor showers this year, their observation locations, and dates.
Note: The radiant point is the point in the sky (constellation) where the meteors of a particular shower appear to originate from.
The Quadrantids (Radiant point: Constellation Bootes)
According to the American Meteor Society, the first meteor shower of the year was the Quadrantids, considered the best annual event of the year, typically seen in the Northern Hemisphere, which peaked in early January. The shower is known for its intense and bright fireballs, and during its peak, 60 to as many as 200 meteors can be seen per hour.
The Lyrids (Radiant point: Constellation Lyra)
The next big shooting star display this year is the Lyrid meteor shower. Scheduled to peak on April 21 and 22, the Lyrids are known for their fast and bright meteors, which will frequent our visible sky between 10 and 20 times per hour. Like the Quadrantids, this display, too, will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
Eta Aquarids (Radiant point: Constellation Aquarius)
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will occur in May, with peak activity on the 5th and 6th (might differ in the Southern Hemisphere) nights. This shower is known for its fast-moving meteors, which frequent about 30 times an hour and travel at speeds up to 148,000 mph.
The Perseids (Radiant point: Constellation Perseus)
The Perseids meteor shower is perhaps the most famous of the year and is known for producing up to 50 to 100 meteors per hour. The Perseids, known for its bright and colorful fireballs, will peak on August 12 and 13 and be visible across most of the Northern Hemisphere.
The Draconids (Radiant point: constellation Draco)
The Draconids meteor (scheduled to peak on October 8 and 9) shower is one of the minor meteor showers that average (during peak) about 10 meteors an hour.
It is occasionally known to produce outbursts of hundreds or even thousands of meteors per hour as the Earth passes through a particularly dense part of the comet’s debris trail. The Northern Hemisphere gets the best view of this shower, but it can also be observed from Southern latitudes.
The Orionids (Radiant point: north of constellation Orion’s bright star Betelgeuse)
The Orionids meteor shower will also occur in October, with peak activity on the 21st and 22nd nights. This shower is known for its bright and fast-moving meteors (on average, 15 meteors an hour in a moonless sky), which can travel up to 41,000 mph. This event will be visible from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
The Geminids (Radiant point: Constellation Gemini)
Considered one of the major annual meteor showers, the Geminids will close the year, with peak activity usually recorded on December 13 and 14. This shower (visible across the globe) can produce up to 120 to 160 meteors per hour and is known for its intensity and display of colors.