When is the next meteor shower? See the Almanac’s 2018 Meteor Shower Calendar for the dates of all the principal meteor showers during the year, plus meteor shower 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.
And the next question is “When can I see the meteor showers?”
The answer is: Most showers are midnight to dawn. Yes, they’re for you night owls or early risers. However, the famous Geminids are all night and some showers do happen in the late evening. See the chart below.
2018 Meteor Shower Calendar
Is there a meteor shower tonight? When is the next meteor shower?
|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).
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.
See the monthly Sky Watch for highlights of the night sky and a printable sky map!
Meteor Shower Viewing Tips
- For everyone, weather conditions and light pollution are the only reasons you can not see the showers. The sky needs to be dark and clear, away from all the city lights. Bright moonlight, within a few days of a full Moon, will also reduce the number of meteors that you will see.
- 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, such as the constellation Perseus, from which the Perseid meteor showers appear to radiate.
- When to look? The time of the year for each shower is determined by when in Earth’s orbit it crosses the stream of meteoroids. On the chart below, see the “date of maximum,” which shows when meteor showers will be the strongest.
- Note that the “best” viewing times are usually predawn and late evening. In nearly all showers, the radiant is highest just before dawn. (The Geminid meteor showers are visible all night long, since Gemini arises just an hour or two after nightfall; the radiant is highest a little after midnight.) Sporadic meteors (unrelated to a shower and commonly called shooting stars) can be seen on any night, but increase in frequency after midnight and peak just before dawn.
- 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. So between midnight and dawn, you’ll be viewing the meteors head-on, for a more frequent display.
- You don’t need any special equipment. In fact, binoculars do not work for meteor showers. The naked eye is best.
- Spread a blanket on the ground and look up into the dark night sky.
For more information, click here to read our article, “What are Meteor Showers: Facts About Shooting Stars.”