Meteor showers peaking in 2022: how and where to watch

Any night away from the bright city lights, there is a chance you will see a beautiful trail in the sky as a meteor flies overhead. But...


Any night away from the bright city lights, there is a chance you will see a beautiful trail in the sky as a meteor flies overhead. But on special dates scattered throughout the year, sky watchers can catch a multitude of flares as meteor showers erupt in the dark.

Meteor showers occur when our planet collides with the debris field left by icy comets or rocky asteroids circling the sun. These small particles burn in the atmosphere, leading to flaming light trails. The regularity of the orbital mechanics means that all meteor shower occurs at roughly the same time each year, with the changing phases of the bright moon being the main variable affecting their visibility. Subscribe to Times Space and Astronomy Calendar to get a reminder before these events.

The best practice is to go into the countryside and stay as far as possible from artificial light sources. People in rural areas can have the luxury of just going out. But city dwellers also have options.

Many cities have an astronomical society that maintains an area dedicated to the starry sky. “I would suggest contacting them and finding out where they are,” said Robert Lunsford, secretary general of the International Meteor Organization.

Meteor showers are usually best seen when the sky is darkest, after midnight but before sunrise. In order to see as many meteors as possible, wait 30 to 45 minutes after arriving at your viewing location. This will allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. Then lie back and admire much of the night sky. Clear nights, higher elevations, and times when the moon is thin or absent are best. Mr Lunsford suggested 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 actually limit your view.

Each downpour culminates on a certain date when Earth sinks into the densest part of the debris field, although in some cases many meteors can still be seen before or after that specific night.

Showers are named after a constellation in the part of the sky from which they seem to crisscross. But it is not necessary to be perfectly versed in every detail of the celestial sphere. Meteors should be visible all over the sky during a given downpour.

Next year will be a fairly calm year for the meteor showers. The biggest events – the Summer Perseids and the Winter Geminids – both have the unfortunate chance of happening during the bright moon phases, which will erase many trails. But enthusiasts may be entitled to a new shower, called the Tau Herculids, which is expected to potentially be on view for the first time in 2022. Below is a timeline with your best options for seeing a beautiful show throughout the year. year.

Active from 26 Dec. 2021 to 16 Jan. 2022. Peak night: 2 to 3 Jan.

The year begins with the Quadrantid meteor shower, named Quadrans Muralis, an archaic constellation that modern astronomers equate to the constellation known as Bo├Âtes. It could be one of the heaviest showers of the year.

Maximum Quadrantid activity occurs one day after a new moon, so conditions should be optimal for viewing. While the rain can have as many as 120 meteors visible per hour, this occurs in January when the weather is more likely to be cloudy, meaning predicted rates are closer to 25 per hour in dark skies. The event is also most active for a short six-hour window. It will be best seen from East Asia, around 2 a.m. in different time zones, as this 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 April 15 to 29. Peak night: April 21 to 22

The first spring downpour will peak when the moon is two-thirds full, which could limit visibility. It is a morning downpour, best seen early before dawn in the northern hemisphere, although some activity is visible in the southern hemisphere. The meteors come from a comet called C / 1861 G1, also known as Thatcher, and is expected to be much stronger in 2023, when the moon will be a tiny crescent, allowing up to 18 meteors to be seen per hour.

Active from April 15 to May 27. Peak night: May 4 to 5

The Eta Aquariids are one of two showers resulting from the debris field of Comet Halley, along with the Orionids in October. The debris will enter over the Earth’s equator, meaning it will be visible in both hemispheres around the world. Moonlight will be minimal during rush hour, which is expected to be between 3 a.m. and dusk on May 5. But the shower should be very active for about a week before and after that date. In recent years, the Eta Aquariids have produced between 45 and 85 fireballs per hour under dark sky conditions.

Potentially active from late May to early June. Peak nights: Possibly May 29-31

In 1930, astronomers spotted comet 73P / Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW3 to friends) and a possible meteor shower was predicted as the Earth passed near its debris field. Little activity has since been detected. But in 1995, comet SW3 experienced a huge rupture, splitting into several pieces that spat out a lot of dust. Our planet has a good chance of hitting its field this year, although calculations by some astronomers suggest that may not happen. The moon will be new on the night of May 30, which means conditions should be ideal for meteor viewing. The event will be more visible in parts of North and Central America, with optimal spots ranging from Southern California and Mexico to Texas.

Active from July 18 to August 21. Peak night: July 29 to 30

This downpour is one of the best for viewers in the southern tropics, although it is also visible low in the sky for those in the northern hemisphere. The moon will be a thin crescent just past nine during peak. Shower streaks should be noticeable for a week before or after the peak party. Aquariids in the South Delta are expected to produce between 15 and 20 meteors per hour under dark skies and are best seen around 3 a.m.

Active from Jul 14 to Sep 1 Rush night: Aug 11 to 12

Hot summer nights and high rates of fireballs make the Perseids one of the most popular showers of the year. Originating from comet 109P / Swift-Tuttle, which often returns via the inner solar system, the Perseids frequently put on a great show. But this year the moon will be full during the peak shower night and rise most of the night, drastically reducing visibility. Reaching dark skies and waiting until the early hours of the morning can still get you to see between 15 and 20 meteors per hour.

Active from Sep 26 to Nov 22 Rush night: Oct 20 to 21

After hitting the outgoing track of Halley’s Comet in May, Earth collides with debris left by the comet each October as it heads toward the sun, producing the Orionid meteor shower. This is a moderate intensity shower, typically producing 10-20 streaks per hour, although in exceptional years it can create up to 75 streaks per hour. The moon will be 20% full this year, which means visibility should be good. It will be visible anywhere in the world between midnight and 4 a.m. local time.

Active from Nov. 3 to Dec. 2 Peak night: Nov. 17-18

The Leonids are famous for occasionally producing meteor storms. In 1966, 1999 and 2001, its rates exceeded 1,000 fireballs per hour. This year’s show is expected to be around 15 meteors per hour, as our planet is not expected to encounter dense debris fields from the shower mother comet, 55P / Tempel-Tuttle, until 2099. The moon will be around a third full on the night of peak activity. The shower will be best seen in the northern hemisphere after midnight, and later at night for those in the southern hemisphere.

Active from 4 to 17 Dec. Peak night: Dec. 13 to 14

Often one of the best and most reliable showers of the year, the Geminids will occur six days after a full moon in 2022, significantly interfering with their light. Viewers in northern latitudes should have about three hours to see them after sunset but before moonrise, when they can expect maybe five to 10 meteors per hour. Even when the moon is up, its place in the sky will not be close to the constellation from which this downpour is emanating, Gemini, so observers can try to place the moon behind a wall or other obstacle for increased visibility.

Active from 17 to 26 Dec. Rush night: 22 to 23 Dec.

While the Geminids are poorly placed when it comes to the phases of the moon, a small downpour that appears to be spouting from Ursa Minor (part of Ursa Minor) should be a safer bet for observers. The Ursid meteor shower will peak near the new moon, which means that interference will be significantly less than during the Geminids. Viewers can expect to see seven to 10 meteors per hour, although this is strictly a northern hemisphere affair.

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