The next meteor shower is: the Delta Aquarids in late July! While they usually peak before dawn around July 30, it may be worth looking for them earlier, as the approaching full Moon is less likely to interfere. See details and the complete Meteor Shower Calendar for 2020 below.
Next Meteor Shower: Delta Aquarids of July
Start looking for the Delta Aquarids in late July. While they usually peak before dawn around July 30, it may be worth looking before dawn starting on the 27th of July because there will be less Moon glare. The Moon will be full on August 3, so the shooting stars may be somewhat washed out. But there will be more of a moon-free window (between moonset and dawn) a little earlier in July.
It’s not one of the biggest meteor showers of the year, with about 10 meteors per hour from mid-northern latitudes. If you live in southern regions, you may see up to 20 to 40 meteors per hour. The main concern will be a dark sky and cooperative weather.
Remember: You can see meteor showers from WHEREVER you are on Earth! Yes, we all see the same big sky! See more details in the chart below.
2020 Meteor Showers Calendar
Note that the meteor shower dates do not change much from year to year, though the peak of a shower may vary by a day or two.
In general, most major meteor showers are best seen after midnight; some do not even appear until after then. Usually, a better time to see them is after 2 a.m., and the best time is about an hour or so just before morning twilight. Geminids, however, can be seen starting earlier, such as around 9 or 10 p.m., until morning twilight. Sometimes Draconids may be visible at nightfall through early evening.
|Principal Meteor Showers|
|SHOWER||BEST VIEWING||POINT OF ORIGIN||DATE OF MAXIMUM*||NO. PER HOUR**||ASSOCIATED COMET|
|Eta Aquarid||Predawn||SE||May 4||10||Halley|
|Delta Aquarid||Predawn||S||July 30||10||—|
|Draconid||Late evening||NW||Oct. 9||6||Giacobini-Zinner|
|Taurid||Late evening||S||Nov. 9||3||Encke|
|Andromedid||Late evening||S||Nov. 25–27||5||Biela|
|Geminid||All night||NE||Dec. 13–14||75||—|
|*May vary by one or two days **Moonless, rural sky Bold = most prominent|
- “Predawn” means an hour or so before morning twilight. Best time to view most major showers.
- “Late evening” means approximately between 10 p.m. and midnight (or a little past).
Meteor Showers Viewing Tips
- The most common question is “Where can I see the meteor showers?” The answer is: ANYWHERE in the sky! Yes, for this type of celestial wonder, your specific location does not matter.
- When are meteor showers? See the chart above for “date of maximum,” which lists the peak of each meteor shower when the shooting stars will be most frequent. The time of the year for each shower is determined by when in Earth’s orbit it crosses the stream of meteoroids.
- What time can I see the meteor showers? The answer is: See the chart above for “best viewing.” In nearly all showers, the radiant is highest just before dawn. But anytime beween midnight and dawn gives you a view of most meteors head-on, for a more frequent display. Starting around midnight, your location on the globe spins around to the forward-facing half of Earth (in relation to the direction of orbit). At dawn, your location on the globe directly faces the direction in which Earth is traveling along its orbit.
- Note: the Geminid meteor shower is visible all night long, since Gemini arises just an hour or two after nightfall; the radiant is highest a little after midnight.)
- Where to look? The best place to start is between the radiant and the zenith (straight above you). The radiant is where the meteors appear to start from. See the “point of origin” above.
- How to look? You don’t need any special equipment. In fact, binoculars do not work for meteor showers. The naked eye is best.
Dark Skies, Clear Skies Needed!
- The sky needs to be dark, away from all the city lights. Try to get to a viewing site as far as possible from bright lights. This may require planning—for a country drive or a campout.
- Bright moonlight, within a few days of a full Moon will reduce the number of meteors that you will see. Check our Full Moon Chart.
- Obviously, the weather needs to cooperate so that the skies are clear.
- Look for a location with a wide-open view of the sky, free from obstructions like tall trees or buildings.
- Spend about 20 minutes outside for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness of the night sky.
- Spead a blanket on the ground and get cozy!
For more information, click here to read our article, “What are Meteor Showers: Facts About Shooting Stars.”