When is the next meteor shower? Our Meteor Shower Calendar for 2021 has dates for all the principal meteor showers—plus viewing tips from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Catch a shooting star!
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. 9-10||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. 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.
Stay tuned as we add more meteor showers to the list!
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.”