Meteor showers are beautiful performances of nature. There are several to come in the coming months, and all you need to see them is the knowledge to figure out the best times and places to view, as we have described below. And maybe a comfortable place.
Where to watch meteor showers
Although it is possible to watch a meteor shower from your backyard, you will be able to see things more clearly from a super dark viewing area. You can find up-to-date maps of dark skies showing you the light pollution in your city and the best night sky view areas near you in places like DarkSiteFinder or the International Dark Sky Places conservation program. As a general rule, these places are far away from bright cities in wide open areas or at higher altitudes, and they are also good places for stargazing.
Before going out, double check the active date of the shower and when it is expected to reach its peak. This gives you the best chance to see more meteors per hour than at any other time. Also, be sure to adjust to your time zone and note the moon̵7;s current cycle – a certified Dark Sky Place does not matter if there is a full moon that night.
What equipment should you bring?
Once you have found a good viewing area, all you really need to bring is your enthusiasm and some creatures like blankets, chairs and some coffee in a thermos (to keep you warm and awake, of course). You Can bring binoculars or even a telescope, but they limit your field of vision and can make you miss the show. However, if you have a good camera and a tripod, you can take them with you and take some photos or create a timelapse. The latest Google Pixel phones can take astro photography, so they should let you take some great photos in the night sky.
Be sure to bake for about 30-45 minutes in your schedule to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. If you absolutely need some light, make sure it is red light, which is strong enough to illuminate your surroundings without disturbing your dark-adjusted eyes. This means that you also have to put away your smartphone!
When are the upcoming showers?
Even though we have the last months of 2020, there are still some meteor showers that you can catch before the end of the year. Be sure to mark your calendar!
This shower is active between October 6-10 and peaks on October 7. This shower is easier to see late at night, rather than after midnight like most others. While it is usually weak with only a handful of meteors per hour, it sometimes rises like its name kite and produces hundreds in an hour.
These are active from October 2 to November 7 and peak around October 21-22. This group of meteors comes from Halley’s comet, which we will not be able to see again until 2061.
This shower is active 6-30 November and peaks around 16-17 November and is one of the weaker annual showers. Every 33 years or so, however, there will be a meteor storm. During its last storm in 2001, thousands of meteors swept across the Earth’s atmosphere in just a short 15-minute period.
These are active from 4-17 December and peak around 13-14 December. It is one of the most popular and productive shows of the year with about 120 visible meteors per hour. We believe that these meteors, along with the January Quadrantids, were once part of an asteroid (3200 Phaethon) rather than a comet like most others.
The last meteor shower of the year is active December 17-26 and peaks around December 22-23. Although not as exciting as The Geminids with only 10-20 visible meteors per hour, it’s a perfect way to circle the winter solstice. These meteors are visible around their name constellation – Ursa Minor – and are believed to originate from Comet 8P / Tuttle.