Meteor shower guide: Next up, a meteor storm?
ALERT: Scientists are predicting a possible meteor storm overnight on Monday, May 30, 2022. If it happens, it’ll be one of the most spectacular night sky events in decades. You’ll see it best in a dark sky. Read more below, or check out our Tau Herculids post here.
Whoa! Tau Herculids meteor storm on May 30?
Predicted peak: Studies by teams of meteor experts suggest the peak of the shower will come at 5 UTC on May 31 (1 a.m. EDT on May 31.
When to watch: Overnight on the night of May 30-31 for us in the Americas. If you are elsewhere in the world, translate the predicted peak time (5 UTC on May 31) to your time zone.
Duration of shower: Unknown. Watch around the predicted peak. For watchers on half the globe, that peak will come in daylight. In that case, watch as close as possible to the predicted peak, either before or after it.
Radiant: If the shower takes place, the meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Bootes the Herdsman, about 6 degrees north-northwest of the bright orange star Arcturus. But you don’t need to find this point. If the meteor storm takes place, it’ll be obvious where it is!
Nearest moon phase: New moon comes on May 30. Woo hoo! Skies will be moon-free for the 2022 Tau Herculid shower (if it happens).
Expected meteors at peak: No one knows exactly. But this could be a true meteor storm. The last one was the famous Leonid meteor storm of 1966. Meteors fell at rates as high as 40 meteors per second! And remember they are all emanating from a single point in the sky. People who watched the 1966 Leonid shower said they felt they had to clutch the ground, so strong was the impression of Earth moving through space.
Note: It’s unknown if the meteors will be bright, or faint. It’s unknown how many there will be. It is known that the meteors will travel slowly across the sky … so be sure to watch in a dark sky area, since slow-moving meteors tend to be fainter. The Tau Herculid meteor storm might happen, as Earth passes through a particularly dense stream of icy particles left behind in the years 1995, 1897 and 1892 by comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, aka SW3. Read more about the Tau Herculids.
Late July to mid-August meteors … the Delta Aquariids
Predicted peak: July 29, 2022, at 10 UTC. But this shower doesn’t have a noticeable peak. It rambles along steadily from late July through early August, joining forces with the August Perseids.
When to watch: Watch late July through early August, mid-evening to dawn.
Duration of shower: July 18 to August 21.
Radiant: Rises in mid-evening, highest around 2 a.m. your local time and low in the sky by dawn. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: In 2022, new moon falls at 17:55 UTC on July 28. And full moon will fall at 1:36 UTC on August 12. Take advantage of the moon-free mornings in late July and early August for watching the Delta Aquariids (and the Perseids).
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: The Delta Aquariids’ maximum hourly rate can reach 15 to 20 meteors in a dark sky with no moon. You’ll typically see plenty of Delta Aquariids mixed in with the Perseids, if you’re watching in early August, especially when there’s no moon to obscure the view.
Note: Like May’s Eta Aquariids, July’s Delta Aquariids favors the Southern Hemisphere. Skywatchers at high northern latitudes tend to discount it. But the shower can be excellent from latitudes like those in the southern U.S. Delta Aquariid meteors tend to be fainter than Perseid meteors. So a moon-free dark sky is essential. About 5% to 10% of the Delta Aquariid meteors leave persistent trains, glowing ionized gas trails that last a second or two after the meteor has passed.
Early to mid-August meteors … the Perseids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for August 13, 2022, at 3 UTC.
When to watch: The moon will be up all night during 2022’s peak of the Perseid meteor shower. But this shower rises to a peak gradually, then falls off rapidly. And Perseid meteors tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into the wee hours. The shower is often best before dawn. So, in 2022, from early August to mid-August watch late evening to dawn, until the waxing moon – brighter each night, and up for more hours – drives you back inside.
Duration of shower: July 14 to September 1.
Radiant: The radiant rises in the middle of the night and is highest at dawn. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: Full moon falls at 1:36 UTC on August 12. There will be a bright moon up during the Perseid’s peak in 2022. Take advantage of the moon-free mornings in late July and early August for watching the Perseids (and the Delta Aquariids).
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, skywatchers frequently report 90 meteors per hour, or more. But that’s doubtful in 2022, as the moon will drown all but the brightest meteors from view.
Note: The August Perseid meteor shower is rich and steady, from early August through the peak. The meteors are colorful. And they frequently leave persistent trains. All of these factors make the Perseid shower perhaps the most beloved meteor shower for the Northern Hemisphere.
Early October meteors … the Draconids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for October 9, 2022, at 1 UTC (evening of October 8 for the Americas).
When to watch: There’s no dark window for watching the Draconids in 2022. If you want to watch in moonlight, try the evening of October 8.
Overall duration of shower: October 8 through 9.
Radiant: Highest in the sky in the evening hours. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: Full moon is 20:55 UTC on October 9. In 2022, the full or nearly full moon will drown most Draconid meteors from view.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, you might catch 10 Draconid meteors per hour.
Note: The Draconid shower is a real oddity, in that the radiant point stands highest in the sky as darkness falls. That means that, unlike many meteor showers, more Draconids are likely to fly in the evening hours than in the morning hours after midnight. This shower is usually a sleeper, producing only a handful of languid meteors per hour in most years. But watch out if the Dragon awakes! In rare instances, fiery Draco has been known to spew forth many hundreds of meteors in a single hour. That possibility keeps many skywatchers outside – even in moonlight – during this shower.
Late October meteors … the Orionids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for October 21, 2022, at 18 UTC.
When to watch: Watch for Orionid meteors on both October 20 and 21, in the wee hours after midnight and before dawn.
Overall duration of shower: September 26 to November 22.
Radiant: The radiant rises before midnight and is highest in the sky around 2 a.m. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: New moon falls at 10:49 UTC on October 25. So, at the Orionids’ peak, the moon will be in a waning crescent phase and rise in the early morning hours. It’ll be up there, but not too bright. You might even enjoy the waning crescent as you watch for the Orionids in 2022.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, the Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 10 to 20 meteors per hour.
Note: These fast-moving meteors occasionally leave persistent trains. The Orionids sometimes produce bright fireballs.
October into early November … the South and North Taurids
Predicted peak: The South Taurids’ predicted* peak is November 5, 2022, at 18 UTC. The North Taurids’ predicted* peak is November 12, 2022, at 18 UTC. But the South and North Taurids don’t have very definite peaks. They ramble along in October and November and are especially noticeable from late October into early November, when they overlap.
When to watch: Best around midnight, and probably best from late October into early November.
Overall duration of shower: The South Taurids run from about September 23 to November 12. North Taurids are active from about October 13 to December 2.
Radiant: Rises in early evening, highest in the sky around midnight. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: In 2022, new moon falls on October 25. Full moon is November 8. So late October – when the two showers overlap and there’s no moon – might be excellent for the Taurids in 2022. But you’ll catch Taurid meteors throughout October and November. This custom sunrise-set calendar can show you moon rising times for your location. Be sure to check the moon rising time box.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under dark skies with no moon, both the South and North Taurid meteor showers produce about 5 meteors per hour (10 total when they overlap). In 2022, watch for fireballs.
Note: Taurid meteors tend to be slow-moving but sometimes very bright. The showers sometimes produce fireballs, which might make their cyclical reappearance in 2022. The American Meteor Society pointed to “a seven-year periodicity” with Taurid fireballs. 2008 and 2015 both produced them. 2022 might as well. The last Taurid fireball display, in 2015, was really fun! Photos and video of Taurid fireballs here. Watch for them in 2022!
Mid-November meteors … the Leonids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for November 18, 2022, at 0 UTC.
When to watch: Watch on the night of November 17, late evening until moonrise.
Duration of shower: November 3 through December 2.
Radiant: Rises around midnight, highest in the sky at dawn.
Nearest moon phase: In 2022, last quarter moon falls on November 16. So there will be a narrow window of darkness as Leo begins to rise shortly before midnight, until the fat waning crescent moon rises.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, you might see 10 to 15 Leonid meteors per hour.
Note: The famous Leonid meteor shower produced one of the greatest meteor storms in living memory. Rates were as high as thousands of meteors per minute during a 15-minute span on the morning of November 17, 1966. That night, Leonid meteors did, briefly, fall like rain. Some who witnessed it had a strong impression of Earth moving through space, fording the meteor stream. Leonid meteor storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years. But the Leonids around the turn of the century – while wonderful for many observers – did not match the shower of 1966. And, in most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars.
Early to mid-December meteors … the Geminids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for December 14, 2022, at 13 UTC.
When to watch: The moon will illuminate the sky from late evening on, on the evening of December 13. The moon will rise slightly later on December 14. The Geminids tend to be bright. One option is to try watching in moonlight on the nights of December 13 and 14.
Overall duration of shower: November 19 to December 24.
Radiant: Rises in mid-evening, highest around 2 a.m. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: In 2022, last quarter moon falls on December 16. So it’s a bright waning gibbous moon that’ll illuminate the sky during the 2022 Geminid meteor peak.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, you might catch 120 Geminid meteors per hour.
Note: The bold, white, bright Geminids give us one of the Northern Hemisphere’s best showers, in years when there’s no moon. They’re also visible, at lower rates, from the Southern Hemisphere. The meteors are plentiful, rivaling the August Perseids.
Meteors around the December solstice … the Ursids
Predicted peak: is predicted* for December 22, 2022, at 22 UTC.
When to watch: Watch for Ursid meteors December 22 and 23, before dawn.
Duration of shower: Ursids range from December 13 to 24, so you might see some intermingling with the Geminids’ peak.
Radiant: Circumpolar at northerly latitudes.
Nearest moon phase: A faint waning crescent moon at only 3% illumination won’t interfere with the Ursids in 2022. New moon is December 23 at 10:16 UTC.
Expected meteors at peak,under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, the Ursids offer perhaps five to 10 meteors per hour.
Note: This low-key meteor shower – which always peaks around the solstice – is somewhat overlooked due to the holiday season. Its hourly rate is lower than that of the popular Geminid shower, which peaks just a week before.
Early January 2023 meteors … the Quadrantids
The Quadrantids are the year’s first meteor shower. They’re brief! And they’re mostly drowned in moonlight in 2023.
When to watch: The best night for the 2023 Quadrantids is January 3-4 (The predicted peak** is 3 UTC on January 4). A bright nearly full moon will shine almost all night. Try late night January 3 to dawn January 4, in moonlight. Or try the hour or so of true darkness, after moonset, shortly before dawn on January 4.
Nearest moon phase: Full moon will come on January 6, 2023.
Radiant: Rises in the north-northeast after midnight and is highest up before dawn. The radiant point for the Quadrantids is in a now-obsolete constellation, Quadrans Muralis the Mural Quadrant. Nowadays, we see the radiant near the famous Big Dipper asterism. Because the Quadrantid radiant is far to the north on the sky’s dome, this is mostly a far-northern shower, not as good for the Southern Hemisphere.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, when the radiant is high in the sky, the Quadrantids can produce over 100 meteors per hour.
Duration of shower: The Quadrantid meteor shower runs from mid-November through mid-January each year, according to this 2017 article in the journal Icarus. You might see a Quadrantid streak by any time during that interval. But most activity is centered on the peak.
Note: The Quadrantids is one of four major meteor showers each year with a sharp peak (the other three are the Lyrids, Leonids, and Ursids).
April 2023 meteors … the Lyrids
The annual Lyrid meteor shower always brings an end to the meteor drought that occurs each year between January and mid-April.
When to watch in 2023: Late evening April 21 until dawn April 22 – or late evening April 22 until dawn April 23 – will be best. The predicted** peak is 1:06 UTC on April 23. And the peak of the Lyrids is narrow (no weeks-long stretches of meteor-watching, as with some showers). In 2023, new moon falls on April 19. Yay! No moon for 2023’s Lyrid meteor shower.
Radiant: Rises before midnight, highest in the sky at dawn.
Nearest moon phase: In 2023, new moon falls on April 19. There will be no moon in the sky during the peak mornings for 2023’s Lyrid meteor shower.
Duration of shower: April 15 to April 29.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: In a dark sky with no moon, you might see 10 to 15 Lyrids per hour. The Lyrids are known for uncommon surges that can sometimes bring rates of up to 100 per hour! Read more about Lyrid outbursts below.
Note for Southern Hemisphere: This shower’s radiant point is far to the north on the sky’s dome. So the Southern Hemisphere will see fewer Lyrid meteors. Still, you might see some!
May 2023 meteors … the Eta Aquariids
Moonlight will obscure the 2023 Eta Aquariids.
When to watch: Full moon falls at the peak of the 2023 Eta Aquariid shower. If you want to try watching in moonlight, try the mornings of May 5, 6 and 7, 2023, in the hours before dawn. Why before dawn? See “Radiant” below. The American Meteor Society is listing 15 UTC on May 6 as the shower’s predicted* peak time. But times vary between different experts. And the peak of this shower stretches out over several days. So you can expect elevated numbers of meteors a few days before and after the peak time … albeit in moonlight.
Nearest moon phase: In 2023, full moon will fall at 17:36 UTC on May 5. Moonlight will obscure the 2023 Eta Aquariids.
Radiant: Rises in the wee hours, climbing toward its highest point at dawn. That’s why before dawn is the best time to watch this shower.
Duration of shower: April 15 to May 27.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: In the southern half of the U.S., you might see 10 to 20 meteors per hour under a dark sky, with no moon, when the radiant is high in the sky. Farther south – at latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere – you might see two to three times that number.
Note: The Eta Aquariids’ radiant is on the ecliptic, which rides low in the sky on spring mornings as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. That’s why this shower favors the Southern Hemisphere. It’s often that hemisphere’s best meteor shower of the year … but not in 2023, when moonlight will drown out most meteors.
Meteor shower guide: photos from the EarthSky community
Meteor shower words of wisdom
A wise person once said that meteor showers are like fishing. You go, you enjoy nature … and sometimes you catch something.
Bottom line: Look here for information about all the major meteor showers in 2022 and early 2023. There are some good ones! Next up … the Delta Aquariids and the Perseids in late July and August.
**Peak times for 2023 meteor showers provided by Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society. Note that predictions for meteor shower peak times may vary. Back to top