- Top 3 showers of 2024
- Viewing conditions for 2024
- Meteor showers 2024
- January: Quadrantids
- April: Lyrids
- May: Eta Aquariids
- August: Perseids
- October: Draconids
- October: Orionids
- November: Taurids
- November: Leonids
- December: Geminids
- December: Ursids
- How to see a meteor shower
- What causes meteor showers?
- Additional resources
When is the next meteor shower?
The next meteor shower will be the Lyrid meteor shower which occurs between April 16-25 every year and will next peak on the night of April 21, 2024.
It's shaping up to be a good year for meteor hunting!
We spoke to Bill Cooke, the lead for the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and asked him about which meteor showers to look out for this year and how to view them.
One particular shower to watch this year is the Eta Aquariids which peak on the night of May 4 and predawn hours of May 5. According to Cooke, there might be an exciting outburst this year, with visual rates as high as one per minute for observers in the southern hemisphere.
Bill leads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Top 3 showers to look out for in 2024
We asked Cooke if he had to choose, which three meteor showers would he recommend for 2024. Here are his top three:
- Perseids: Peak on the night of Aug. 12 and predawn hours of Aug. 13. According to Cooke, the first quarter moon will have set before the radiant gets high in the sky, so there will be no moonlight to spoil the show.
- Eta Aquariids: Peak on the night of May 4 and predawn hours of May 5. According to Cooke, there could be an outburst with visual rates as high as one per minute for those watching from the southern hemisphere; less for those in the northern hemisphere. The moon will also be a waning crescent so there is not too much moonlight to interfere with meteor hunting.
- Geminids: Peak on the night of Dec. 13. Though there will be strong interference from a waxing gibbous moon, a large number of bright meteors will still be visible which is why the Geminid meteor shower has made it onto Cooke's list.
Meteor shower viewing conditions for 2024
Meteor shower viewing conditions are strongly affected by the moon phase at the time of the shower, with a bright Full Moon causing the most disturbance, washing out fainter meteors. We asked Cooke whether the moon will be troublesome for any major showers in 2024.
According to Cooke, the moon messes with three meteor showers this year.
First, the Lyrids which peak around April 22 as the waxing gibbous phase moon will cause a lot of interference. Second, the Orionids that peak on Oct. 20 will again experience a great deal of lunar interference, this time from the waning gibbous moon. And third, the Leonids peak on Nov. 16, just one day after the full moon, will be completely washed out by moonlight.
Meteor showers 2024
The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the strongest and most consistent showers of the year. It is active (and visible) between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12.
The Quadrantids will next peak between Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, 2024.
For the 2024 Quadrantids, viewing conditions were good, with a 47% illuminated waning crescent moon providing less interference than the 89% illuminated moon we experienced in 2023 at the time of the peak.
The shower's radiant is in the constellation Bootes. The easiest way to find it is to look north for the Big Dipper. Then, follow the "arc" of the Big Dipper's handle across the sky to the red giant star Arcturus, which anchors the bottom of Bootes.
The Lyrid meteor shower is a medium-strength shower that occurs between April 16-25 every year.
The Lyrids will next peak on the night of April 22, 2024, displaying a maximum of about 18 meteors per hour in a clear sky.
Unfortunately viewing conditions for the next Lyrid meteor shower will be hindered by the almost full moon shining brightly in Virgo around the time of the Lyrid's peak. But that's not to say it's impossible to catch sight of an impressive meteor or two!
According to the American Meteor Society, viewers should have a good view of the meteor shower for the three days around the shower's peak.
The source of material that creates the Lyrid meteor shower is Comet Thatcher. The Lyrids have been viewed by different cultures for the past 2,700 years, according to NASA.
May: Eta Aquariids
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is active between Apr. 15 and May 27
The Eta Aquariids will next peak around May 4-5, 2024. The maximum rate for shooting stars in a clear sky will be about 50 per hour, according to Cooke. These fast meteors travel across the sky at about 42 miles (67 kilometers) per second, according to AMS.
Moonlight will provide minimal interference to meteor hunters, as the peak of the Eta Aquariids is around the time of the new moon.
These chunks of space debris come from a celestial icon: Halley's Comet. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is categorized as a strong shower and is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere or close to the equator. Folks in some northern latitudes, however, can also observe them.
People close to the equator will have the best chance to see the Eta Aquariids. The meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius, which dwells in the southern sky. This means that the radiant of these shooting stars will be lower on the horizon for those viewing from the Northern Hemisphere, and it will appear higher in the sky for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.
"The Etas are not a shower that you can go out to see after sunset because the radiant won't be up," said Cooke. To see the Eta Aquariids, Cooke recommends getting up to be outside at 2:00 a.m. local time. From then on, the rates will continue to increase until dawn.
These meteors are short, swift streaks, produce long trains, according to AMS, and travel at about 41 miles (66 km) per second.
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most prolific showers of the year, producing rich, bright streaks. The Perseids are active from mid-July until late August and peaked around Aug. 13, 2024.
Viewers can start observing around 11 p.m. local time when the rates of shooting stars increase and can watch the sky until dawn.
If there's a clear sky, the Perseids will have a meteor rate of about 100 visible "shooting stars" per hour.
The Draconid meteor shower has staged some dramatic outbursts in the past but nowadays its show is far from extravagant. In recent years the Draconids have been relatively quiet, producing few meteors and no noticeable outbursts of activity.
The shower is active between Oct. 6-10, peaking around Oct. 8-9. Viewing conditions are favorable this year as the moon will only be 19% illuminated.
The Draconids are caused by Earth passing through debris — bits of ice and rock — left behind by Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner as it hurtles through the solar system, passing Earth once every 6.6 years, according to NASA Science.
Like the Eta Aquariids, the Orionid meteor shower is a by-product of Halley's Comet. In 2024 the Orionids are active from Sept. 26 to Nov. 22 and will peak on Oct. 20-21, with clear-sky rates of about 20 meteors per hour.
The moon will be about 37% illuminated this year and so may slightly interfere with Orionid meteor viewing opportunities.
Orionids are named for their radiant near the constellation Orion, the hunter, which is one of the easier constellations to spot with the three stars that make up its "belt."
The Taurid meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that occurs every November and is composed of two streams, the Southern Taurids and the Northern Taurids. The Taurids put on a rather modest show, especially when compared with August's Perseid meteor shower or December's Geminid meteors.
At peak viewing times during the Taurid meteor shower, you may be able to see about a half-dozen shooting stars per hour, at best. Otherwise, you may not even notice the quiet star show above your head.
The Southern Taurids are active between Sept. 28 and Dec. 2 and peak on Nov 4-5. Whereas the Northern Taurids are active between Oct. 13 and Dec. 2 and peak on Nov. 11-12.
The Leonid meteor shower offers clear-sky meteor rates of about 10 to 15 shooting stars per hour. They are active between Nov. 3 and Dec. 2 and will peak on Nov. 17-18.
The Leonids are bright meteors and have a high percentage of persistent trains according to AMS.
The Leonids' radiant is located in the sickle-shaped head of the constellation Leo, the lion.
Leonid meteor hunting can be incredible, or a total bust. It all depends on where its parent body, Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, will be in its orbit and the kind of debris clumps that will be around when our planet passes through this comet's orbit.
The Leonids put on big shows in 1966, 1999 and 2001, according to AMS, when the comet was making its closest approach to the sun. It will be several years until observers get a big show from the Leonids.
"The best we can hope for now until the year 2030 is peaks of around 15 shower [meteors] per hour and perhaps an occasional weak outburst when the earth passes near a debris trail. The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains," according to AMS.
The Geminid meteor shower occurs between Nov.19 to Dec. 24 and this year will peak on the nights of Dec.13 and Dec. 14. The shower can produce 130 to 140 meteors per hour on a clear sky, said Cooke.
2024 will be a great year for Geminid meteor shower viewing as it peaks around the time of the new moon which arrives at 6:32 p.m. EST (2332 GMT) on Dec. 12.
Year after year, the Geminids are the strongest meteor shower in terms of rates. Cooke previously said that when the shower was observed in the 1830s, rates were about 30 meteors per hour, and now, well over 100 appear per hour.
The meteor shower's radiant is located in the constellation Gemini, which rises around sunset. The shower is best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere but can be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, although at a reduced meteor rate.
Geminid meteors are bright and "intensely colored," according to AMS, although they aren't likely to produce long trails. These meteors are also visible in the southern hemisphere but at reduced rates.
The Ursid meteor shower is active between Dec. 17-26 and will peak on Dec. 22-23. They're generally a fairly sparse display, producing approximately five meteors per hour, according to Royal Museums Greenwich. Visibility will be good this year as the new moon arrives on Dec. 23.
The Ursids are associated with Comet 8P/Tuttle, a periodic comet that follows a 13.5-year elliptical orbit around the sun.
How to see a meteor shower
If you're looking for a good camera for meteor showers and astrophotography, our top pick is the Nikon D850.
Meteor showers are an investment of time and preparation is key to seeing them, according to Cooke, but it's worthwhile because it's cheap — no telescope or binoculars are necessary — and the simplest form of astronomy there is.
Meteor shower observing can't be done on a whim, but it's pretty straightforward: Get away from bright lights, take time to adjust your eyes to the night sky and avoid looking at your cellphone if you get bored. The bright screen can throw a wrench in your efforts to adjust your night vision. "My suggestion to my friends who want to observe meteors is, leave your phone inside," said Cooke.
Give your eyes 30-45 minutes to adapt to the dark, he said, and take in as much of the sky as possible by lying down flat on your back. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, and the more sky you see, the better your chance is to spot one.
Each shower has a radiant, or a point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate. Knowing where the radiant is can be helpful, though the longer streaks will be visible farther away from the radiant. "You do not want to look at the radiant," Cooke said. "A good philosophy is to lie on your back and look straight up. And that way, you take in as much of the sky as you can."
If you want more advice on how to photograph the Taurids, check out our how to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide and if you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Keep in mind that some sky conditions can impede the successful viewing of shooting stars. Cloud coverage could block the sky, and the moon could also tarnish meteor shower viewing even on a clear night. Depending on the moon phase the amount of moonlight will wash out the faint meteors.
To calculate sunrise and moonrise times in your location check out this custom sunrise-sunset calculator. Sometimes meteor showers produce exceptionally bright streaks. Observers can occasionally spot fireballs, or meteors brighter than Venus, the brightest planet in the night sky. The rate of shooting stars can be higher than usual in some instances, too, when the stream of space rocks gets a gravitational "nudge" from the planet Jupiter.
What causes meteor showers?
Meteor showers happen when Earth passes through the debris field of a comet or asteroid as these objects make their way around the sun, shedding "crumbs" along the way. That's why a given meteor shower generally appears around the same time each calendar year. And occasionally, when Jupiter gets close to a stream of debris, its immense gravity perturbs the particles, nudging them slightly closer to Earth and thereby increasing the number of meteors visible in the night sky. Occasionally, this can produce outbursts or brief periods of intense activity in which skywatchers can see more than 1,000 meteors per hour.
Most annual meteor showers don't outburst, though, and are typically classified as strong, medium or weak showers, depending on their peak rates.
Explore meteor showers in more detail and discover the difference between sporadic meteors and meteor showers with Geology.com. Learn more about meteor showers with these FAQs from NASA. Find out how we predict the intensity of meteor showers with BBC Science Focus.
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Daisy Dobrijevic joined Space.com in February 2022 having previously worked for our sister publication All About Space magazine as a staff writer. Before joining us, Daisy completed an editorial internship with the BBC Sky at Night Magazine and worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester, U.K., where she enjoyed communicating space science to the public. In 2021, Daisy completed a PhD in plant physiology and also holds a Master's in Environmental Science, she is currently based in Nottingham, U.K. Daisy is passionate about all things space, with a penchant for solar activity and space weather. She has a strong interest in astrotourism and loves nothing more than a good northern lights chase!