On any given night, far from the bright city lights, it’s likely you’ll see a beautiful streak shoot across the sky as a meteor flies overhead. But on particularly sporadic days of the year, skywatchers can catch countless flares as the meteor shower erupts in the dark.
Meteor showers occur when our planet runs into a field of debris left behind by icy comets or rocky asteroids orbiting the sun. These tiny particles burn up in the atmosphere, resulting in bright streaks of light. The regularity of orbital mechanics means that any particular meteor shower occurs at about the same time each year, with the changing phases of moonshine being the key variable affecting the likelihood of a meteor shower. their display. Register with Spacetime and Astronomical Calendar to get reminders before these events.
How to see a shower
The best way is to go out into the countryside and stay away from artificial light sources as much as possible. People in the countryside can have the luxury of just stepping outside. But city dwellers also have options.
Many cities have an astronomical organization that maintains a dedicated dark sky area. “I would suggest contacting them and find out where they are,” said Robert Lunsford, general secretary of the International Meteor Organization.
Meteor showers are usually best viewed when the sky is darkest, after midnight but before sunrise. To see as many meteors as possible, wait 30 to 45 minutes after you arrive at your viewing location. That will allow your eyes to adapt to the dark. Then lie back and gaze at the vast night sky. Clear nights, higher altitudes, and times of waning or empty moons are best. Mr. Lunsford recommends a good rule of thumb: “The more stars you can see, the more meteors you can see.”
Binoculars or telescopes are not necessary for meteor showers and will in fact limit your view.
How meteor showers form
Each shower peaks on a certain day when Earth is plowing through the densest part of the debris field, although in some cases many meteors can still be seen before or after that particular night. that body.
Showers are named for a constellation in the sky in which they appear. But there is no need to master every detail of the celestial sphere. Meteors are visible in the sky during any rain.
Next year will be a pretty quiet year for meteor showers. The biggest events – Summer Perseids and Winter Geminids – are both unlucky to occur during moonlit phases, which will wash away many of the trails. But enthusiasts could be enjoying a new shower, known as the Tau Herculids, which is predicted to likely make its first appearance in 2022. Here’s a calendar with your best options. to see a beautiful performance throughout the year.
Operating from December 26, 2021 to January 16, 2022. Peak night: January 2 to 3
The year begins with the Quadrantid meteor shower, named for Quadrans Muralis, an ancient constellation that modern astronomers lump together with the constellation known as Boötes. This is likely to be one of the strongest showers of the year.
Maximum activity for the Quadrantids occurs the day after the new moon, so conditions must be optimal for viewing. While the shower can have up to 120 visible meteors per hour, it occurs in January when the weather is likely to be more cloudy, meaning the predicted rate is closer to 25 meteors per hour. in the dark sky. The event was also at its most exciting in its short six-hour span. It will be best observed from East Asia, around 2 a.m. in different time zones, as that is the part of Earth that will face the debris field. But people in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere have a chance to see many fireballs.
Active from 15th to 29th April
The first showers in spring will peak at a 2/3 full moon, which can limit visibility. It’s a morning shower, best viewed in the early hours before dawn in the Northern Hemisphere, although some activity will be visible in the Southern Hemisphere. These meteors originate from a comet called C/1861 G1, also known as Thatcher, and are predicted to be much more powerful in 2023, when the moon will be a small, enabling crescent. see up to 18 meteors per hour.
The Eta Aquariids
Operating from April 15 to May 27. Peak night: May 4 to 5
The Eta Aquariids are one of two showers that generate the debris magnetic field of Halley’s comet, along with the Orionids in October. The debris will penetrate Earth’s Equator, meaning it will be visible both two hemispheres of the world. Moonlight will be minimal during peak times, between 3 a.m. and dusk on May 5. But showers should be active for about a week before and after that date. Over the years, the Eta Aquariids have produced between 45 and 85 meteors per hour in dark sky conditions.
Likely to operate from late May to early June. Peak nights: May 29-31
In 1930, astronomers discovered comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW3 with its companions) and a possible meteor shower was predicted as Earth passed close. its debris field. Little activity has been detected since then. But in 1995, comet SW3 had a huge break, split into many pieces and spewed a lot of dust. Our planet has a good chance of entering its field this year, although some calculations by astronomers suggest that may not be the case. The moon will be new on the night of May 30, which means favorable conditions for meteor viewing. The event will be most visible in parts of North and Central America, with optimal locations stretching from Southern California and Mexico to Texas.
The Southern Delta Aquariids
Operating from July 18 to August 21. Peak night: July 29 to 30.
This shower is one of the best spots for viewers in the southern tropics, though it will also be visible in low skies for those in the Northern Hemisphere. The moon will be a slender crescent that has just passed during its zenith. Streaks from the shower should be observed for a week before or after the evening rush. The Southern Delta Aquariids are predicted to produce 15 to 20 meteors per hour under dark skies and are best seen around 3 a.m.
Operating from July 14 to September 1. Peak night: August 11 to 12
Warm summer nights and high fireball incidence make the Perseids one of the most famous showers of the year. Originating from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which regularly returns through the inner solar system, the Perseids regularly put on a great show. But this year, the moon will be full on the night of the peak of the showers and most of the night, significantly reducing visibility. Going to a dark sky and waiting until early morning can still allow you to see 15 to 20 meteors per hour.
Operating from September 26 to November 22, Peak night: October 20 to 21
After hitting the outer path of Halley’s comet in May, every October, Earth falls into the debris left behind by the comet as it heads towards the sun, creating the Orionid meteor shower. . This is a medium-intensity shower that typically produces 10 to 20 streaks per hour, although in exceptional years it can produce up to 75 streaks per hour. The moon will be at 20% fullness this year, which means visibility will be good. It will be viewable worldwide between midnight and 4 a.m. local time.
Operating from November 3 to December 2. Peak night: November 17 to 18
The Leonids are famous for producing meteor storms from time to time. In 1966, 1999 and 2001, its speed exceeded 1,000 fireballs per hour. This year’s show will feature 15 softer meteors per hour or so as our planet is not forecast to experience any dense debris fields from the shower’s parent comet, 55P/Tempel- Tuttle, until 2099. The moon will be one-third full on the night of peak activity. Showers are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere after midnight and later at night for those in the Southern Hemisphere.
Operating from December 4 to 17 Peak night: December 13 to 14
Often one of the best and most reliable showers of the year, the Geminids will occur six days after the full moon in 2022, greatly affecting their light. Viewers in northern latitudes will have about three hours to see them after sunset but before moonrise, when they can expect perhaps 5 to 10 meteors per hour. Even if the moon rises, its position in the sky will not be close to the constellation where this shower radiates, Gemini, so observers may try to put the moon behind a wall or other obstruction. to increase visibility.
Operating from December 17 to 26 Peak night: December 22 to 23
While the Geminids are ranked worse for the phases of the moon, a small shower that seems to originate in Little Dipper (part of Ursa Minor) would be a safer choice for observers. The Ursid meteor shower will peak close to the new moon, meaning the interference will be significantly less than during the Geminids. Viewers can expect to see 7 to 10 meteors per hour, although this is purely a Northern Hemisphere affair.
https://www.nytimes.com/article/meteor-showers-2022.html The meteor shower will peak in the night sky in 2022