Photo by Shutterstock
Photo by Shutterstock
Eyes to the skies!
Want to travel to dark sky spots but don’t know when? Follow this meteor shower calendar for the best dates.
With more International Dark Sky Parks than ever before, stargazers have plenty of reasons to keep their eyes to the sky in 2021 and 2022. 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.
Best seen from the southern tropics, the Southern Delta Aquariids are active between July 12 and August 23, 2021. The peak night will happen on July 28, when the moon will be 74 percent full.
On the very same night, the Alpha Capricornids will peak on July 28, and they can be seen just as well from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The moon will still be mostly full (74 percent) on the peak night, but the entire meteor shower is active between July 3 and August 15, 2021. 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.
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, 2021, the Perseids will max out the night of August 11, 2021. The moon will only be 13 percent full and will set just as the meteors start to appear, so expect to see around 50 to 75 meteors per hour on the peak night.
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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 2021 is predicted to be, expect between 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, the moon will be full that night, but the shower is active between October 2 and November 7, 2021.
While the Leonids can produce outbursts of activity in certain years, 2021 is expected to only get about 15 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak on the night of November 16, into the predawn hours of November 17. Unfortunately, the moon will also be nearly full that night. Lasting from November 6 to 30, 2021, the Leonids are known for particularly bright meteors.
The Geminids are the strongest meteor shower of the year. However in 2021, the peak falls on the night of Monday, December 13, when the moon will be nearly full, making dark sky conditions hard to find. Around 50 meteors per hour are expected during the Geminids each year. The entire shower lasts from December 4 to 17, 2021.
Active between December 27, 2021, and January 10, 2022, the Quadrantids peak late at night on January 2, and into the early morning hours of January 3. A new moon falls on this same night, allowing for completely dark skies. 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.
Typically, the Lyrids are only considered to be a medium strength meteor shower. In 2022, they will peak on a night when the moon is 50 percent full, making it harder to see meteors against the moonlit sky. The entire Lyrid meteor shower is active from April 16 to April 25, 2022, and is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere. You can also view it from the Southern Hemisphere, but expect lower rates of meteors there.
Best seen from the southern tropics, the Eta Aquariids are active between April 19 and May 28, 2022. The moon will be 19 percent full, providing mostly dark skies to see these meteors.
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.
This article originally appeared online on December 23, 2019; it was updated on December 16, 2020, and again on July 15, 2021, to include current information.
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