Meteor showers 2015

Meteor showers 2015

Here's your guide to meteor showers with dates, times and where to look.

Geminids by Asim Patel.jpg


Every year certain meteor showers occur with some regularity.  These are often the result of various comets tails passing across the earth.  Occasionally we have some new surprises and we might get a few in 2015 especially in March. 


Ultimately, the appearance and significance of a meteor varies and we usually can't predict when we'll have a breath-taking shower or a disappointment.  To some degree it's like predicting the appearance of a comet.  We hear it's going to be great and it's missing in action.  Then we're surprised when the comet in the skies this January of 2015 called Q2 shows up to the naked eye in hues of green in the high sky. 


Meteor showers are the same and all we can do is take a peek at the skies when they periodically show up and hope they'll put on a show.  Unfortunately for all of us, many of the best viewing times once again occur in the very early hours of the morning -usually 2 to 3 hours before sunrise.  With that in mind, here's your calendar for 2015 meteor showers with optimal times and where and when to look... just in case.

Image above by: Asim Patel


Quadrantids from January 1st to January 10th 2015


The Quadrantids have the potential to be the strongest shower of the year. The average hourly rates under dark skies is 25. These meteors usually lack persistent trains but often produce bright fireballs. Due to the high northerly declination these meteors are not well seen from the southern hemisphere.


March:  Fireball season.


There's no specific meteor storm here, but for some reason some very bold and bright meteors cross the skies in March.  Many are "fireballs". These are large meteors that blaze bright and leave a long tail.  If you're watching the skies in March keep your eyes up from time to time and you might see one.  In fact, NASA reports that fireballs increase up to 30% around the spring equinox which is around March 20 to the 21st. 

Fireball Meteor Bolide.JPG


A Fireball meteor. Image by: C m handler

Active from April 16th to 25th 2015


The Lyrids usually produce good rates. These meteors also usually lack persistent trains but always provide good trails and can produce fireballs.  They can produce up to 100 meteors per hour.  They occasionally exhibit surges that can be dramatic in a brief period of time.  They emerge from the constellation Lyra.  Like many meteor showers they peak in the early mid-morning around 3 a.m. so you better get to bed early or plan to sleep late.  Best seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant is high in the sky at dawn.  Activity from this shower can sometimes be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate.


Eta Aquariids April 19th to May 26th 2015


This is a shower that dominates in the southern tropics.  It's a medium rate shower with 10 to 30 meteorites per hour.  This occurs usually before dawn.  They tend to be small meteors leaving long streaks and few fireballs.  They can also be seen in the northern hemisphere usually around 3 to 4 a.m.  Unfortunately, there will be a gibbous moon which will diminish the appearance of some of the fainter meteors. 


Delta Aquariids July 21st to August 23rd 2015


Another shower in the southern tropics.  Look to the southern sky.  Good rates but usually faint and lacking persistent trains, tails and fireballs.  Mostly emanating from Aquarius. 


Alpha Capricornids Active from July 11th to August 10th 2015


Active from July 11 through August with a maximum on July 29.  Not very strong with five meteors per hour.  Seen very well both in the northern and southern hemisphere.  Notable for its fireballs.  Emerges from the constellation Capricorn.


Perseids July 13th to August 26th 2015


Active from July 13 to August 26.  They reach maximum on August 13.  Rates from 50-75 per hour at maximum.  Persesids are released from comet Swift-Tuttle. They originate from the constellation Perseus which defines their name.  One of the better showers but like all meteor showers, this can vary.  Fortunately, we'll have a waning crescent moon so the skies will give us good contrast for any meteors that choose to show up.  They tend to be fast and bright meteors that often leave a trail.  As you would suspect, the best occurrences happen in the wee hours of the night about 2 hours before sunrise. 

The 2010 Perseids over the VLT.jpg

The Draconids October 8, 2015

Emerging from the head of the constellation Draco.  What's reassuring is that the Draconids tend to peak in the evening hours before midnight.  This is typically a low volume shower with 5 to 10 an hour but sometimes peaks with surprising intensity.  They are best viewed from the northern hemisphere and on rare occasions have hit peaks of 100 per hour.  There will be a waning crescent moon on October 7th and 8th so visibility should be very good. 


Orionids October 4th to November 14th 2015


The Orionids emerge from the constellation Orion and range from streaking tails to an occasional fireball. Typically produce 20-25 meteors at maximum.  Has sometimes exhibited activity up to 50-75 per hour.  Peaks around October 23rd or 24th. 

Southern Taurids Active from September 7th to November 19th 2015


This shower emerges from the constellation Taurus.  It is not notable for significant numbers or meteors but has produced significant fireballs.  Expect 5 to 10 meteors per hour.  Maximum is assumed to occur on October 9th and 10th.  Unfortunately, there's a full moon so only the boldest meteors will be apparent.


Northern Taurids Active from October 19th to December 10th 2015


This shower is much like the Southern Taurids, just active a bit later in the year and emerge from the constellation Taurus.  When the two showers are active simultaneously in late October and early November, there is sometimes a notable increase in the fireball activity. There seems to be a seven year periodicity with these fireballs.  2008 was the last remarkable year. Perhaps 2015 will be the next.  Worth watching.  They also tend to peak around midnight so some of us can actually get some sleep.


Leonids Active from November 5th to 30th 2015


Don't get your hopes high here.  This meteor show is notoriously inconsistent.  In 1966 if came down at 1,000 meteors per hour.  Witnesses gripped the ground as they felt the earth racing through space.  They should emerge from the constellation Leo but have been missing in action for quite some time.  Then again... you never know. 


Image of the Leonids in 1833.


Geminids Active from December 4th to 16th 2015


One of the most dependable meteor showers with an expected peak on the 13th and 14th.  They emerge from the constellation Gemini starting about 10 pm and continuing into the night.  Can be seen in the southern hemisphere but not as much.  These meteors are often very bright and coloured, with a medium-slow velocity.  Possibly the most dependable meteor shower we get year after year.


Ursids Active from December 17th to 23rd 2015


The Christmas shower peaking around the 23rd and 24th.  Emerges from the Big

Dipper or Ursa Major.  Typically delivers 5 to 10 meteors per hour but usually in late morning from 3 a.m. to sunrise. This is strictly a northern hemisphere event. 


So set the dates in your calendars and enjoy these wonders of the night sky. Use a recliner and bring a warm drink to make the most of these showers.

 Related Posts:  Observing the Night Sky

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