Meteor Shower Dates and Viewing Tips
Get ready for fall’s meteors! When’s the next meteor shower? Our Meteor Shower Calendar for 2021 has the dates, best time to view, number per hour, point of origin, and associated comet—plus, viewing tips!
2021 Meteor Shower Calendar
The dates of major meteor showers do not change much from year to year, though the peak (or “maximum”) of a shower may vary by a day or two. We’ve listed these peak dates in the table below, along with the average number of meteors to expect to see per hour (in prime conditions) and the best viewing time for each shower. More detailed information about each meteor shower can be found below the table.
|Principal Meteor Showers|
|SHOWER||BEST VIEWING||POINT OF ORIGIN||DATE OF MAXIMUM*||NO. PER HOUR**||ASSOCIATED COMET|
|Eta Aquarid||Predawn||SE||May 4–5||10||Halley|
|Delta Aquarid||Predawn||S||July 28–29||10||—|
|Draconid||Late evening||NW||Oct. 8–10||6||Giacobini-Zinner|
|Northern Taurid||Late evening||S||Nov. 11–12||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 between midnight and about an hour 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 of 2021
Quadrantids | January 2–3, 2021
In the right conditions, the Quadrantids are one of the best meteor showers of the year, as they feature an average of 25 meteors per hour at their peak. Unfortunately, the Quadrantids’ peak is quite short, lasting only from midnight to dawn. In any case, their peak date this year coincides with a bright waning gibbous Moon, which makes it difficult to see the falling meteors.
Lyrids | April 21–22, 2021
The Lyrids reach their peak on the night of April 21–22, 2021, when you can expect to see an average of 10 meteors per hour in dark, clear skies between midnight and dawn. Rarely, the Lyrids produce surges of up to 100 meteors per hour.
This meteor shower is visible from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, but is much more active in the Northern Hemisphere, where the meteors’ radiant is high in the sky. This year, the Moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase during the Lyrids’ peak, so the best viewing will be between moonset and dawn on April 22.
Eta Aquarids | May 4–5, 2021
The Eta Aquarids are the result of dust and debris produced by Halley’s Comet as it circles the Sun. This meteor shower is most spectacular in the Southern Hemisphere, where the meteors’ radiant is higher in the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere, Eta Aquarids are often seen closer to the horizon.
Look for the Eta Aquarids in the early pre-dawn hours of May 5, when 10–20 meteors per hour can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere (and nearly double that in the Southern Hemisphere).
Delta Aquarids | July 28–29, 2021
The Delta Aquarids get their name from the constellation Aquarius, which they appear to emanate from. A weaker shower, the Delta Aquarids typically reach their peak in late July and produce between 10 and 20 meteors per hour around this time. A truly dark sky offers the best chance at seeing the Delta Aquarids, as they tend to not be as bright as some of the other meteor showers.
This year, the Delta Aquarids mingle with the light of a bright waning gibbous Moon, which will make it more difficult to see these faint meteors. Keep an eye out for them in the pre-dawn hours of July 28, 29, and 30.
Perseids | August 11–13, 2021
We’re in for a fantastic Perseids show this year! The New Moon falls on August 8 and will still be thin when the Perseids reach their peak just a few days later, which means that they won’t be washed out by the Moon’s brightness. This meteor shower is also one of the most productive of the year—expect to see up to 50 meteors per hour in a clear, dark sky. For more viewing tips, check out our guide to the Perseid meteors!
Draconids | October 8–10, 2021
The Draconids aren’t the most impactful show of the year, but they do mark the start of a busy season of meteor showers. After the Draconids, a shower happens every one to two weeks until late December.
This year, the Draconids reach their peak just a few days after the new Moon of October 6. This, plus the fact that the thin crescent Moon sets before nightfall, means that we’ll have perfectly dark skies to make meteor-viewing all the easier. These meteors also tend to peak earlier in the night than most; look for them as soon as it’s dark enough to see the stars.
Orionids | October 20–21, 2021
The Orionids are named after one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky, Orion, from which these meteors appear to radiate. Often featuring some of brightest and fastest streaking stars, the Orionids appear in mid October and reach their peak in the hours before dawn on October 21. Unfortunately, this year they will compete directly with the full Hunter’s Moon, which will be at its brightest on the same night as the Orionids (October 20–21).
Because of the timing, the Orionids will likely be washed out and won’t be as prominent as usual. For the best chance at seeing these shooting stars, venture out in the dark hours before dawn and position yourself away from the full Moon as best as you can.
Leonids | November 16–17, 2021
The Leonids normally feature 10 to 15 shooting stars per hour, but on rare occasions, they have been known to produce “meteor storms,” which result in thousands of meteors streaking across the sky! This year, don’t expect a storm—or much of a show at all, as the Leonids compete with the bright waxing gibbous Moon (becoming full on November 19).
Geminids | December 13–14, 2021
December’s full Moon rises on the 18th, which means that the Geminids’ peak on December 13-14 will be washed out to some extent by a bright waxing gibbous Moon. Fortunately, the Moon drops below the horizon in the early hours of December 14, so there will be a few hours before dawn on the 14th when the Geminids won’t be competing with the Moon’s light. Read more about the Geminid meteor shower here!
Stay tuned as we continue to add more meteor showers!
Meteor Showers Viewing Tips
- The most common question is “Where can I see the meteor showers?” The answer is: ANYWHERE in the sky! During a meteor shower, meteors can appear at any location, not just near their radiant. (The radiant is the location in the sky from which the paths of meteors in a meteor shower appear to originate, from our perspective on Earth. For example, the constellation Perseus is the radiant for the Perseids meteor shower; constellation Leo, the Leonids.) As far as viewing location on Earth, several major meteor showers can be seen in both Hemispheres, but others might be better seen in one or the other, depending on how far above or below the horizon the radiant is located. The Ursids, for example, are essentially seen only in the Northern Hemisphere, as the radiant is too far north of the equator for good viewing in the Southern Hemisphere.
- 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? See the chart above for the best viewing time. In nearly all showers, the radiant is highest just before dawn, but any time 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 appears 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 in the sky). (Once again, 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 well for meteor showers. The naked eye is your best tool!
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.”