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Meteor Showers for 2015

Color code

Good
Fair
Poor

This table is intended as an aid to meteor watchers in southern California. Meteors are best observed from dark wilderness locations, far from city lights. The glow from light-pollution in most cities and suburbs allows only a few bright meteors to be seen. The brightness of the Moon must also be taken into account, as it can have a large effect on the number of meteors that will be visible. Some meteor showers have a very brief peak, lasting only a few hours, and sometimes the peak occurs at a time when the shower is not visible from southern California. These factors have been taken into account on the table below, and each meteor shower is tagged with a color code; green means excellent conditions, orange indicates the presence of some moonlight or marginal predictions, and red means most of the meteors will be blocked by moonlight or some other time factor. The estimates of numbers of meteors per hour are based on viewing from a dark sky location in southern California.

The best way to watch a meteor shower is to travel to a wilderness area or campground that has a dark sky. It’s best to choose a night when the Moon is not visible during the shower. Most meteor showers are strongest after midnight and until dawn. Dress warmly and lie back on a deck chair or lounge, so you are looking up at the sky. Don’t look at bright lights like flashlights or cell phone displays which can desensitize your eyes for ten minutes or more.

Because Griffith Observatory is surrounded by urban light glow, Griffith Park and the Observatory are not recommended as meteor shower observing locations, and are not open after normal closing time (10:00 p.m.).


image of the moonPeak Night
January 3-4

Quadrantids

Active: December 28 – January 12

Because of the timing of the brief maximum this year’s Quadrantid meteor shower (which occurs over the eastern hemisphere), combined with a full moon about a day later, a poor performance of this year’s meteor shower is nearly guaranteed this year. Quadrantids are particles possibly shed by the small body 2003 EH1, which may be an extinct comet, and hit our atmosphere with a velocity of 25 miles (41 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Poor.


image of the moonPeak Night
April 22-23

Lyrids

Active: April 16 – April 26

Conditions are favorable for the Lyrid meteor shower this year. Lyrid meteors seem to stream from a point (the shower radiant) close to the bright star Vega of Lyra the Lyre. The shower can be seen between 10:00 p.m. and dawn (4:42 a.m., PDT). During this time, the radiant moves from jut above the northeast horizon, to directly overhead. In the hour before dawn, about 18 Lyrid meteors can be seen per hour. Lyrids move along the orbit of comet C/1861 G (Thatcher), and hit our atmosphere at 27 miles (43 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Good.


image of the moonPeak Night
May 5-6

Eta Aquariids

Active: April 19 – May 28

The glare of the waning gibbous moon will spoil the maximum of the eta Aquariid meteor shower this year. The meteors can only be seen between 3:00 a.m. and dawn (4:26 a.m., PDT). Under ideal conditions, up to 20 Aquariid meteors can be seen per hour, but only a tiny fraction of these can be seen with the bright moonlight. Eta Aquariids are particles shed by comet 1P/Halley, and hit our atmosphere at 41 miles (66 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Poor.


image of the moonPeak Night
July 27-28

South Delta Aquariids

Active: July 21 - August 23

The normally weak South delta Aquariid shower will be swamped by the full moon this year. South delta Aquariid meteors are produced by cometary particles, possibly from a sungrazing comet family, and strike earth’s atmosphere at 25 miles (41 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Poor.


image of the moonPeak Night
August 12-13

Perseids

Active: July 17 – August 24

The conditions for the Perseid meteor shower, the summertime favorite, are excellent for observers this year. The meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus the Hero. The radiant of the meteor shower, the point from which they appear to stream, is in the constellation. On the night of maximum, the Periods start at about 10:00 p.m., when the radiant is low in the north-northeast, and reaches its peak just before dawn, with the radiant 59 degrees high in the east-northeast. Expect about one meteor per minute before dawn. The Perseids are notable for their occasional fireballs, which are bright enough to cast shadows and leave luminous trails in the sky that can last for 10 minutes or more! Perseids are particles shed by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, and hit our atmosphere at 37 miles (59 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Good.


image of the moonPeak Night
October 21-22

Orionids

Active: October 2 - November 7

Conditions for the Orionid meteors are favorable this year after moonset, at 12:31 a.m., PDT. Between moonset and dawn (5:49 a.m.), about 20 Orionids per hour can be expected, streaming from their radiant point in the club of Orion the Hunter. Orionids are particles shed by comet 1P/Halley, and hit our atmosphere at 41 miles (66 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Good.


image of the moonPeak Night
November 17-18

Leonids

Active: November 6-30

Conditions are good for this year’s Leonid meteor shower. Leonids can be observed between midnight and dawn (5:00 a.m., PST). The radiant of the shower is in the “sickle” of Leo the Lion, and is 69 degrees high in the east-southeast at dawn. Rates of about 12 Leonid meteors per hour should be expected this year. Leonid meteors are particles shed by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, and hit our atmosphere at a rapid 44 miles (71 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Good.


image of the moonPeak Night
December 13-14

Geminids

Active: December 4-17

Conditions this year are perfect for the Geminid meteor shower, the most dependable meteor shower of recent years. Geminids appear to stream from their radiant near the constellation Gemini the Twins. On the peak night, they can be seen starting at 7:10 p.m., streaking across the sky from the east-northeast. By 1:53 a.m., the radiant is directly overhead. Meteors are then at their strongest rates, up to 120 Geminids per hour. The shower can be seen until dawn interrupts the show, at 5:20 a.m. By then, the radiant has moved to the western sky. Because of their brilliance and relatively slow velocity, the Geminids are one of the few meteor showers worth watching, despite reduced numbers, from suburban conditions. Geminids are particles shed by asteroid 3200 Phaeton, likely a “rock comet”, and hit our atmosphere at 22 miles (35 kilometers) per second.

Viewing conditions are Good.