Increasing Chance of Meteors

Philip Blanco aimed his camera at the north celestial pole during the 1996 meteor shower. But the meteor he captured was actually a Delta Aquarid that arrived a couple of weeks after this shower's peak.
Philip Blanco
Does it seem that you've been seeing more meteors when you've been outside at night during July's new-Moon period? No, it's not your imagination — and it's not just because the nights are getting longer.

It happens that no strong meteor showers take place from February through June. And most of the weak showers at that time of year are best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, those of us at mid-northern latitudes suffer a long drought. But things start to improve dramatically at the end of July.

A couple of minor showers with radiants in Capricornus are currently in progress, and the moderately strong Southern Delta Aquarids peak over the weekend. Unfortunately, this coincides with the full Moon. But if you go out before dawn on Thursday or Friday, you'll have an hour or two of full darkness after the Moon sets. And while you're out there, don't forget to look for Mercury rising in the east.

Things start to get really exciting in early August, when the Moon departs from the evening sky. July's showers are still trickling along at a modest pace, while the Perseids rapidly gather steam. The Perseids are one of the strongest and most reliable annual meteor showers, rivaled only by December's Geminids. And this year the Perseids' peak coincides with both a new Moon and a weekend!

Stay tuned for more information in a week or two. And while you're waiting, you can brush up on how to observe meteors and the science behind them.

9 thoughts on “Increasing Chance of Meteors

  1. lisa

    I am looking forward to a stargazing/camping trip on the weekend of the August new moon and Perseids! I believe it will be one of the most spectacular sights of my life (relatively new to camping/stargazing). Here’s hoping for clear skies!

  2. Tony Flanders

    The 2007 Perseids are expected to be most active on the night of Sunday–Monday, August 12–13. But the peak is fairly broad, so activity should also be quite strong on the preceding and following nights.

  3. Jay Ouellet

    I was at a very dark sky site for the last 7 days and I can tell you that I have never seen so many meteors at this time of the year, ie, three weeks before the Perseids. I’d say 90% of them came from two directions: NE and SE. On average over 5 clear nights, from 1AM till 2 AM, I’d say we’d saw about 30 meteors per hour. No spectacular fireballs nor bolides. But they were plentiful nonetheless.


  4. Ed Maselli

    We will be taking our Boy Scout troop to summer camp in Rhode Island on August 12th, where dark skies abound! Let’s pray for clear skies so we can show these kids a great Perseid show! We’re usually there for the Perseid peak, and we’ve been treated to many bolides and trains over the years. 🙂

  5. George-EbertsGeorge Eberts

    The best Perseid shower for me was the one in 1985… after I got home from the hospital after helping deliver my second son I was unable to sleep and stayed up all night (Aug. 11-12) watching the meteors. To this day I think of that every year.. of course it’s his birthday!

  6. Janelle

    Whenever I think about the Perseids I’m taken back to one summer night almost 30 years ago. My mom, who has since passed, my brother and I were sitting on the front steps of our home. Since we lived on the outskirts of town there was little ambient light. It was my birthday. The Perseids were really spectacular that year. I remember putting my head on my mom’s shoulder and feeling one with the universe. I was sublimely happy that night. The memory is so vivid I can still feel the welcome breeze across my face, hear the frogs and crickets serenade and smell the summer flowers my mom so lovingly planted. If you have children take time to sit beneath the stars with them and commune with the infinite.

  7. Steven Ellis

    Looking into the long range weather computer models, it appears that the St. Louis area and southwestern Illinois will be in the dry for the Perseids. This is good, because we’re one of the areas that are supposed to be near the absolute peak or favored location which is centered in the Great Lakes, the Northeast and eastern Canada. Meteor rates could be upto 130 to 150 if you add the extra metoers coming from other weak showers still on going as well as any stray meteors. The Perseids themselves should still yield about 95 to 115 metoers during the peak night in clear skies, so let’s hope the forecast doesn’t change. Though getting rid of some humidity would be nice.

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.