Astronomy Essentials

Meteor shower guide 2024: Up next the April Lyrids

After the January Quadrantids we’ve got a meteor drought until the April Lyrids.

April 2024 meteors … the Lyrids

When to watch in 2024: Late evening April 21 until dawn April 22 will be best. The predicted** peak is 9:23 UTC on April 22. The peak of the Lyrids is narrow (no weeks-long stretches of meteor-watching, as with some showers). In 2024, the full moon falls at 23:49 UTC on April 23. So meteor watching will be impacted by a bright waxing gibbous moon.
Radiant: Rises before midnight, highest in the sky at dawn.
Nearest moon phase: Full moon falls at 23:49 UTC on April 23. So a bright waxing gibbous moon will be in the sky during the peak morning for the 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.
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!

Read more: All you need to know about Lyrid meteors

Lyrid meteors radiate from near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp. You don’t need to identify Vega or Lyra in order to watch the Lyrid meteor shower. But you do need to know when the radiant rises, in this case in the northeast before midnight. That’s why the Lyrids are typically best between midnight and dawn.

May 2024 meteors … the Eta Aquariids

When to watch: New moon will fall a few days after the peak of the 2024 Eta Aquariid shower. So, mornings around the peak will be dark and moonless. The best mornings to watch are May 5 and 6, 2024, in the hours before dawn. Why before dawn? See “Radiant” below.The American Meteor Society is listing 8:43 UTC on May 5 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.
Nearest moon phase: New moon will fall at 03:22 UTC on May 8. So moonlight will not obscure the 2024 Eta Aquariids.
Radiant: Will rise in the wee hours, climbing toward its highest point at dawn. That’s why before dawn will be 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 will be on the ecliptic, which will ride 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.

Read more: All you need to know about Eta Aquariid meteors

The radiant point of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower will be near the star Eta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. The radiant will rise in the wee hours after midnight and will continue climbing toward its highest point at dawn. That highest point will be in the south as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, closer to overhead for the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why the Southern Hemisphere will see more meteors (the radiant will be higher up), and it’s why – for all of us around the globe – the hours before dawn will be best for this shower.

June 2024 daytime meteor shower … the Arietids

Most meteor showers are easy to observe. Just find a dark sky, and look up! But what about meteor showers that happen in the daytime, when the sun is up? The Arietids are sometimes said to be the most active daytime meteor shower. In 2024, their predicted** peak will be the morning of June 7. You might catch some Arietids that morning in the dark hour before dawn.

When to watch: Watch from May 29 to June 17. There’s a predicted** peak on June 7, 2024. Watch for them in the sunrise direction in the dark hour before dawn breaks.
Nearest moon phase: In 2024, a new moon occurs at 12:38 UTC on June 6. So the mornings around the peak will be completely moon free.
Radiant: The shower’s radiant point – the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to radiate – is in the constellation Aries the Ram. You’ll find this constellation in the east before sunrise.
Duration of shower: May 29 to June 17.
Expected meteors at peak: This is tricky for daytime meteor showers because once the sun comes up, you won’t be able to see them. But the Arietids have a strong zenithal hourly rate (ZHR)! Meteor counts with radar and radio echoes have indicated a rate of 60 meteors per hour, and perhaps as high as 200 meteors per hour.
Note: The Arietids are sometimes said to be the most active daytime meteor shower.

Read more: Arietids, most active daytime meteor shower

The Arietids are an active shower, but they’re visible mostly in daytime. Watch for them in the sunrise direction in the dark hour before dawn from May 29 to June 17. You’ll be looking for meteors that shoot up from the horizon. The radiant is below the constellation Aries the Ram. Chart by John Jardine Goss.

Late July to mid-August 2024 meteors … the Delta Aquariids

Predicted peak: The peak is predicted** for July 30, 2024, at 15:16 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. and low in the sky by dawn. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: In 2024, last quarter moon falls at 2:52 UTC on July 28. Take advantage of the moon-free evenings in late July for watching the Delta Aquariids (and the early 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.
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.

Read more: All you need to know about Delta Aquariid meteors

Delta Aquariid meteors radiate from near the star Skat, aka Delta Aquarii, in the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. This star is near bright Fomalhaut. In late July to early August, Fomalhaut is highest around 2 a.m. (on your clock no matter where you are). It’s southward from the Northern Hemisphere, closer to overhead from the Southern Hemisphere. Fomalhaut appears bright and solitary in the sky. To find it, draw a line roughly southward through the stars on the west side of the Great Square of Pegasus.

Mid-July to mid-August 2024 meteors … the Perseids

Predicted peak: The peak is predicted** for August 12, 2024, at 14:00 UTC. So the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13 are probably your best bet.
When to watch: The moon will be a 1st quarter and 50% illuminated during 2024’s peak of the Perseid meteor shower. So the best time to watch for Perseids will be starting around midnight until dawn. 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 before dawn. The shower is often best just before dawn.
Radiant: The radiant rises in the middle of the night and is highest at dawn. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: First quarter moon falls at 15:19 UTC on August 12. And a 1st quarter moon sets around midnight, so you’ll have dark skies after then until dawn.
Duration of shower: July 14 to September 1.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: Under a dark sky with no moon, skywatchers frequently report 90 meteors per hour, or more. In 2023, the waning crescent moon will not interfere with the meteor shower.
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.

Read more: All you need to know about Perseid meteors

Perseid meteors radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero. The radiant rises in late evening and is highest at dawn. Remember … you don’t have to find a shower’s radiant point to see meteors. The meteors will be flying in all parts of the sky.

Early October meteors … the Draconids

Predicted peak: The peak is predicted** for October 8, 2024, at 3 UTC.
When to watch: The best time to watch the Draconids in 2024 is the evening of October 7 through the wee hours of the morning on October 8. The waxing crescent moon (27% illuminated) will set before 9 p.m. your local time. So you can watch for meteors in a moonless sky.
Overall duration of shower: October 6 through 10.
Radiant: Highest in the sky in the evening hours. See chart below.
Nearest moon phase: First quarter moon is 18:55 UTC on October 10.
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.

Read more: All you need to know about Draconid meteors

The radiant point for the Draconid meteor shower almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon in the northern sky. That’s why you can view the Draconids best from the Northern Hemisphere. This chart faces northward at nightfall in October. The Big Dipper sits low in the northwest. From the southern U.S. and comparable latitudes, in October, obstructions on your northern horizon might hide the Big Dipper from view. From farther south – say, the Southern Hemisphere – you won’t see the Dipper at all in the evening at this time of year. But, if you can spot it low in the sky, use the Big Dipper to star-hop to the star Polaris. Polaris marks the end star in the handle of the Little Dipper. Got all these stars? Then you should also be able to spot Eltanin and Rastaban, the Draconids’ radiant point, high in the northwest sky at nightfall in early October. Draconid meteors radiate from near these stars, which are known as the Dragon’s Eyes.

Late October meteors … the Orionids

Predicted peak: The peak is predicted** for October 20, 2024, at 18:14 UTC.
When to watch: Watch for Orionid meteors on both the mornings of October 20 and 21, starting after midnight through the wee hours 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: The full moon falls at 11:26 UTC on October 17. So, at the Orionids’ peak, the the waning gibbous moon will interfere with the meteor shower.
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.

Read more: Everything you need to know Orionid meteors

If you trace Orionid meteors backward on the sky’s dome, they seem to radiate from the upraised club of the famous constellation Orion the Hunter. This is the shower’s radiant point. The bright star near the radiant point is reddish Betelgeuse. Chart via Chelynne Campion/ EarthSky.

October into early November … the South and North Taurids

Predicted peak: The South Taurids’ predicted** peak is November 5, 2024, at 7:00 UTC. The North Taurids’ predicted** peak is November 12, 2024, at 6:00 UTC. Both 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 on the days around November 5 when the moon won’t interfere.
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 phases: In 2024, the first quarter moon falls at 5:55 UTC on November 9. The new moon is at 12:47 UTC on November 1, and it’s before the predicted peak of the South Taurids on November 5, so the days around then will be the best days to watch for Taurid meteors. However, the waxing crescent moon – 3 days before a full moon at 21:29 UTC on November 15 – will interfere with most meteors around the November 12 peak of the North Taurids. You’ll catch Taurid meteors throughout October and November. Visit Sunrise Sunset Calendars to see 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 five meteors per hour (10 total when they overlap). Also, watch for fireballs.
Note: Taurid meteors tend to be slow-moving but sometimes very bright. The showers sometimes produce fireballs, which made 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 did as well. The Taurid fireball display, in 2015, was really fun! Photos and video of 2015 Taurid fireballs here.

Read more: All you need to know about the Taurid meteors

The Taurid meteors consist of 2 streams, the South Taurid meteors and North Taurid meteors. Both streams appear to originate from the constellation Taurus the Bull. Typically, you see the maximum numbers at or around midnight, when Taurus is highest in the sky.

Mid-November meteors … the Leonids

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Predicted peak: The peak is predicted** for November 18, 2024, at 5:00 UTC.
When to watch: Watch late on the night of November 17 until dawn on November 18. The morning of November 17 might be worthwhile, too.
Duration of shower: November 3 through December 2.
Radiant: Rises around midnight, highest in the sky at dawn.
Nearest moon phase: In 2024, the full moon falls at 21:29 UTC on November 15. So the bright waning gibbous moon will wash out some meteors in 2024.
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.

Read more: All you need to know about Leonid meteors

Leonids stream from a single point in the sky – their radiant point – in the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo rises just before midnight in mid-November. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the, dots a backwards question mark of stars known as the Sickle.

Early to mid-December meteors … the Geminids

Predicted peak: is predicted** for December 13, 2024, at 21:00 UTC.
When to watch: Since the radiant rises in mid-evening, you can watch for Geminids all night around the peak dates of December 13. However, an almost full moon will compete with the Geminids in 2024. Luckily, a lot of Geminid meteors are bright. Find a way to block out the bright moon when watching the sky.
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 2024, the full moon falls at 9:02 UTC on December 15. So there will be a moonlit sky during the peak of the 2023 Geminid meteor shower.
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, especially 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.

Read more: All you need to know about Geminid meteors

Geminid meteors radiate from near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini the Twins, in the east on December evenings.

Meteor shower around the December solstice … the Ursids

Predicted peak: is predicted** for December 22, 2024, at 5:22 UTC.
When to watch: Watch for Ursid meteors in the early morning hours of December 22.
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 last quarter moon occurs at 22:18 UTC on December 22. So the moon – at 54% illumination – may interfere with the Ursids after midnight until dawn. Try to block out the moon after it rises around midnight.
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 over a week before.

Read more: Ursid meteors peak around December solstice

The Ursids are named for their radiant point in the constellation Ursa Minor, which contains the Little Dipper. And the Little Dipper contains the North Pole. So for the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant is above the horizon all night long. Chart via Chelynne Campion/ EarthSky.

Early January 2025 meteors … the Quadrantids

When to watch: The best night for the 2024 Quadrantids is January 2-3. (The predicted peak** is 19 UTC on January 3).
Nearest moon phase: A first quarter moon will come at 23:56 UTC on January 6, 2025 (CST) so the moon will be a waxing crescent and set late on January 2 and not interfere with the Quadrantid meteors.
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 (briefly) 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 Quadrantid shower is one of four major meteor showers each year with a sharp peak (the other three are the Lyrids, Leonids, and Ursids).

Read more: All you need to know about Quadrantid meteors

The radiant point for the Quadrantid meteor shower is far to the north in the sky and so best seen from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. From mid-northern latitudes, the radiant point for the Quadrantid meteor shower climbs over the horizon after midnight and is highest up before dawn.

Meteor shower-watching resources

How high up are meteors when they begin to glow?

Find a Dark Sky Place, from the International Dark Sky Association

Heavens-Above: Satellite predictions customized to your location

Stellarium Online: Star maps customized to your location

Dark Site Finder, from astrophotographer Kevin Palmer

Blue Marble Navigator

EarthSky’s tips for meteor-watchers

Why do meteor showers have a radiant point?

RASC Observer’s Handbook, an indispensable tool for stargazers. The peak dates dates and times listed in this article are (mostly) from there

Meteor shower guide: photos from the EarthSky community

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Photographer Thomas Hollowell in Colorado caught these Lyrid meteors on the morning of April 22, 2020, and said: “The 6 meteors in this frame were stacked in Photoshop on a set of 3 background frames.” Thanks, Thomas!
Draconids near Tucson, Arizona, in 2013, by our friend Sean Parker Photography.
James Younger sent in this photo during the 2015 peak of the Leonid meteor shower. It’s a meteor over the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | William Mathe captured this image on December 20, 2019, in Lindon, Colorado. He wrote: “My wife and I made a 100-mile jaunt out into the eastern plains to try to capture one or more meteors from the Ursid meteor shower. We took this image facing due north. As you can see, just to the right of the little white church is Ursa Major pointing up to Polaris, and just to the left is a green ‘fireball’ meteor that lit up the sky for a second or two.” Thank you, William!
Quadrantid radiant composite via Scott MacNeill of Frosty Drew Observatory in Charleston, Rhode Island.

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: We’re in a meteor shower drought until the April Lyrids. They’ll be best overnight on April 21-22. Your 2024 meteor shower guide here.


**Peak times for meteor showers provided by Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society. Note that predictions for meteor shower peak times may vary. Back to top.

Posted 
February 1, 2024
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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