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Here’s When the Next Meteor Showers Will Light up the Sky

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Prime viewing of the Perseids meteor shower falls on August 11, 2020.

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Prime viewing of the Perseids meteor shower falls on August 11, 2020.

Want to travel to dark sky spots in 2020 but don’t know when? Follow this meteor shower calendar for the best dates.

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With more International Dark Sky Parks than ever before, stargazers have plenty of reasons to keep their eyes to the sky in 2020. While you’ve got the where to go covered, we’ve compiled a calendar so you can know exactly when the next meteor shower will be happening throughout the year.

Quadrantids

Peak night: January 3–4, 2020

Active between December 27, 2019 and January 10, 2020, the Quadrantids peak late at night on Friday, January 3 and into early Saturday morning in 2020. The moon will be 58 percent full, so if you go out to watch this meteor shower you might have to struggle with too much moonlight in addition to potentially poor weather. Under the best conditions, you’ll see an average of 25 meteors per hour during the Quadrantids, making it one of the stronger showers of the year. This meteor shower is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, according to the American Meteor Society.

Lyrids

Peak night: April 21–22, 2020

Typically, the Lyrids are only considered to be a medium strength meteor shower. But in 2020 they will peak the night of Tuesday, April 21, when the moon is only 1 percent full, giving you the dark skies you’ll need. The entire Lyrid meteor shower is active from April 16 to April 28, 2020, and is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere. You can also see it from the Southern Hemisphere, but expect lower rates of meteors there.

Eta Aquariids

Peak night: May 6–7, 2020

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Best seen from the southern tropics, the Eta Aquariids are active between April 19 and May 28, 2020. Unfortunately in 2020, the moon will be full on the peak night of Wednesday, May 6, making it hard to see these meteors.

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places in the United States to go stargazing.

Southern Delta Aquariids

Peak night: July 29–30, 2020

Another meteor shower seen best from the southern tropics, the Southern Delta Aquariids are active between July 12 and August 23, 2020. The peak night will happen on Wednesday, July 29, when the moon will be 77 percent full.

Alpha Capricornids

Peak night: July 29–30, 2020

On the very same night, the Alpha Capricornids will peak on Wednesday, July 29, and can be seen just as well from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The moon will still be mostly full (77 percent) on the peak night, but the entire meteor shower is active between July 3 and August 15, 2020. Even though it’s not a strong shower (expect only about five meteors per hour), the ones you will see are likely to be bright fireballs. 

Perseids

Peak night: August 11–12, 2020

While the Perseids are not the strongest shower of the year (that title goes to the Geminids in December), they are the most popular because they fall on warm summer nights. Active between July 17 and August 26, 2020, the Perseids will max out the night of Tuesday, August 11 this year. The moon will be 47 percent full, but expect to see around 50 meteors per hour on the peak night.

Capturing photos of meteors is difficult, so just put down that iPhone and enjoy the show.

Southern Taurids

Peak night: October 9–10, 2020

The moon will be 50 percent full during the peak night of the Southern Taurids on Friday, October 9, 2020. But this meteor shower lasts a long time—from September 10 through November 20, 2020—and that peak date is considered to be a “barely noticeable maximum” according to the American Meteor Society. So it doesn’t hurt to get outside this fall before or after to try your luck with catching a meteor or two.

Orionids

Peak night: October 21–22, 2020

In exceptional years, the Orionids can produce up to 75 meteors per hour. But that hasn’t happened since 2009. In a normal year, as 2020 is predicted to be, expect between 10 to 20 meteors per hour. For peak activity, you’ll want to stay up late on October 21—after 2 a.m.—or head out in the predawn hours on October 22. The moon is expected to be 34 percent full that night, but the shower is active between October 2 and November 7, 2020. 

Northern Taurids

Peak night: November 11–12, 2020

Active between October 20 and December 10, 2020, the Northern Taurids peak this year on the night of Wednesday, November 11, when the moon will only be 15 percent full. Expect only about three meteors per hour during this shower, so don’t feel a great deal of FOMO if you don’t see this one.

The Geminid meteor shower seen in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Leonids

Peak night: November 16–17, 2020

While the Leonids can produce outbursts of activity in certain years, 2020 is expected to only get about 15 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak on the night of Monday, November 16, when the moon will only be 5 percent full. Lasting from November 6 to 30, 2020, the Leonids are known for particularly bright meteors.

Geminids

Peak night: December 13–14, 2020

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The Geminids are the strongest meteor shower of the year. And in 2020, the peak falls on the night of Sunday, December 13, when the moon will only be at 1 percent, providing ideal dark sky conditions. In the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll be able to see meteors from about 11 p.m. onward. If you’re traveling in the Southern Hemisphere—perhaps to see the total solar eclipse in Chile and Argentina—you’ll have to stay up into the early morning hours of December 14 to see the show. But it’s worth it—up to 75 meteors per hour are expected during the Geminids each year. The entire shower lasts from December 4 to 17, 2020.

Stargazing tips

Remember, light pollution is your enemy. As you start planning trips to catch these celestial shows, be sure to seek out a dark sky place by searching the International Dark-Sky Association’s website for locations. It also doesn’t hurt to consult annual weather reports to double-check whether or not you’ll have to contend with cloud cover. Once you’re there, head outside for about 45 minutes before the meteor shower hits its peak so your eyes can adjust to the dark. And don’t forget to bring chairs and blankets to stay comfy and cozy.

>> Next: Another Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming in 2020—Here’s How to See It

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