Here's When the Next Spectacular Meteor Shower Arrives
Now that the peak of the Perseid meteor shower is in the rearview mirror, there are just a handful of meteor showers for the remainder of 2019, and sadly, only a couple that come close to rivaling the beauty (and warm weather) of the Perseids.
To help navigate the best meteor showers of the fall and winter, Thrillist spoke with Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office earlier this year to figure out what stargazers can expect from the remaining shows. There are plenty of opportunities to see the bright lights streak across the sky, but as has been the case for much of the year, the moon will interfere with the peak nights for many of the showers.
Here are the meteor showers worth catching before the year comes to a close.
Draconid Meteor Shower
Peak date: October 8
The Draconids are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere and have an odd schedule. Unlike many showers that are at their height just before dawn, the Draconids are best viewed in the evening. It can often be a slow show, but when it's lively it's very lively. That may be the case this year. Cooke tells Thrillist it could be quite active, but it will also be competing with a waxing gibbous moon. He recommends that, though it's usually best seen in the evening, that you go out after moonset around 3am.
Orionid Meteor Shower
Peak date: October 21
The Orionids are one of two annual showers created by the long dusty trail of the famed Halley's Comet. Cooke tells Thrillist that the fast-moving meteors of the Orionids will only be visible in the pre-dawn hours and will be relatively tepid this year. It will produce some meteors, but not as many as the alluring 20-30 meteors per hour you could have caught in 2018.
Leonid Meteor Shower
Peak date: November 17
The Leonids are a fairly mellow shower most years, but outburst years can produce more than 1,000 meteors per hour. An outburst isn't expected again until 2032, according to Cooke. You're not even going to get the tepid show of off years because there will be a waxing gibbous moon near the radiant during the pre-dawn hours when it's at its best.
Peak date: November 21
There's debate over whether or not this rare meteor shower will occur in 2019. However, a pair of meteor scientists, Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens, say the outburst will occur for the first time since 1995. If it happens, it'll be brief, peaking around 11:50pm EST the night of November 21. You'll want to be out there right then, because previous outbursts have last for just an hour or two. Some projections say that the shower could produce upwards of 400 meteors per hour. Though, more tempered projections predict something closer to 75 meteors per hour through swaths of the US.
Additionally, the further west you are in the US, the fewer meteors you're likely to see, according to Cooke. He says that anywhere west of Denver is unlikely to see any meteors, even if the shower occurs.
Geminid Meteor Shower
Peak date: December 13
Unless another shower is having an outburst, the Geminids rank with the Perseids as one of the year's best annual events for stargazers. Of course, you're certainly not getting the glorious weather of August's Perseids. This year's display will not hit the 100+ meteor per hour rate we saw last year, partly because the shower will be competing with a full moon. However, the display can produce fireballs and you might see 30-40 per hour if conditions are right. The optimal viewing time is around 2am local time.
Ursid Meteor Shower
Peak date: December 23
Cooke calls these the "cursed Ursids." The show isn't as spectacular as the Geminids and it peaks in a cold month immediately before the Christmas holidays. They just don't get a whole lot of love. Moreover, the meteors of this shower can be faint. Expect to see a maximum of 20 per hour at its peak.