- Visual Meteor Showers List (table)
- Antihelion Source (ANT) Radiant Centre Locations (table)
Finding out which meteor showers are active each month can be a challenge. Some published lists haven’t been updated for over 20 years and don’t take into account more recent and more accurate video observations. Some more recent lists go too far and extend the activity dates of meteor showers to those detectable using video methods but well beyond those during which the meteor shower will be evident visually.
The list is largely based on the 2014 revision of the International Meteor Organization’s (IMO’s) Working List of Visual Meteor Showers, which itself is based on “A Comprehensive List of Meteor Showers Obtained from 10 Years of Observations with the IMO Video Meteor Network” by Sirko Molau and Jurgen Rendtel. Amendments continue to be made using reliable data to ensure the information remains as fully up-to-date as possible, since as we have discovered in the last two decades, meteor showers are not fixed things, but are constantly changing, some faster than others.
SPA observers are encouraged to cover these showers because they are known to be genuinely active at the present time, and they produce visually-detectable rates.
Diurnal and Seasonal Variations
In addition to the variations in meteor rates due to major meteor showers listed later, there are also general daily and seasonal trends in meteor rates. In the same way as the front of your coat gets wetter than the back as you walk through the rain, so the side of the Earth facing the direction the Earth is heading its orbit encounters more meteors than the backward looking side. In practice this means that the background sporadic meteor rates are lowest at around 6pm each day and then steadily rise through the night towards their peak at around 6am. The seasonal variation occurs because the direction in which the Earth is moving lies on the ecliptic 90 degrees behind the location of the Sun. Around the spring equinox, this is in Sagittarius and so never gets very high in the sky from the UK and so sporadic meteor rates are low. By the autumn equinox, this has moved to the Taurus/Gemini area, is therefore much higher in the sky, and hence we see higher sporadic meteor rates.
Visual Meteor Showers List
The activity dates given for the major showers in the table below are those between which the shower is likely to be apparent to a naked eye observer. Outlying members of the meteor stream can be detected beyond these dates via imaging techniques.
Click the shower name for more information and observing notes for the current year.
|Shower name||IMO shower|
|Radiant position at maximum RA||Dec||Radiant Daily motion RA||Dec||Speed (km/s)|
|Quadrantids||QUA||Jan 1-6||Jan 3–4||80-120||15h20m||49°||2.4m||-0.2°||41 km/s|
|Lyrids||LYR||Apr 18-25||Apr 22–23||18||18h04m||34°||4.4m||0.0°||49 km/s|
|Eta Aquariids||ETA||Apr 19-May 28||May 5-6||70||22h32m||-01°||3.5m||0.4°||66 km/s|
|June Bootids||JBO||Jun 22-Jul 2||Jun 27?||0-100+||14h56m||48°||1.6m||-0.2°||18 km/s|
|Delta Aquariids||SDA||Jul 15-Aug 20||Jul 29||20||22h36m||-16°||3.0m||0.2°||40 km/s|
|Alpha Capricornids||CAP||Jul 15-Aug 15||Aug 1-2||5||20h28m||-10°||3.2m||0.3°||23 km/s|
|Perseids||PER||Jul 17-Aug 24||Aug 12–13||60-100||03h16m||58°||5.6m||0.2°||59 km/s|
|Kappa Cygnids||KCG||Aug 3-25||Aug 18?||3||19h04m||59°||1.0m||0.1°||25 km/s|
|Alpha Aurigids||AUR||Aug 25-Sep 10||Aug 31||6||06h04m||39°||4.3m||-0.1°||66 km/s|
|September Eta Perseids||SPE||Sep 5-21||Sep 9||5||03h12m||48°||4.3m||0.1°||64 km/s|
|October Camelopardalids||OCT||Oct 5-6||Oct 5–6||var.||11h00m||78°||-||-||47 km/s|
|Draconids||DRA||Oct 7-10||Oct 8-9||var.||17h28m||54°||-||-||20 km/s|
|Eta Geminids||EGE||Oct 14-27||Oct 18||3||06h50m||27°||4.0m||0.0°||70 km/s|
|Orionids||ORI||Oct 14-31||Oct 21-23||25||06h20m||16°||2.6m||0.1°||66 km/s|
|Southern Taurids||STA||mid Sep - late Nov||see notes||5||see chart||2.9m||0.2°||21 km/s|
|Northern Taurids||NTA||mid Oct - early Dec||see notes||5||see chart||3.6m||0.2°||29 km/s|
|Leonids||LEO||Nov 10-24||Nov 17-18||15||10h08m||22°||2.4m||-0.3°||71 km/s|
|December Alpha Draconids||DAD||Dec 4-13||Dec 7-8||1||13h00m||60°||-||-||41 km/s|
|Monocerotids||MON||Dec 5-20||Dec 8||2||06h40m||8°||2.5m||-0.2°||41 km/s|
|Sigma Hydrids||HYD||Dec 3-15||Dec 11||3||08h30m||2°||3.2m||-0.2°||58 km/s|
|Geminids||GEM||Dec 7-16||Dec 13–14||110||07h28m||33°||4.0m||-0.1°||35 km/s|
|December Leo Minorids||DLM||Dec 5-Feb 4||Dec 20||5||10h44m||30°||3.5m||-0.4°||64 km/s|
|Coma Berenicids||COM||Dec 12-23||Dec 16||3||11h40m||18°||2.4m||-0.3°||65 km/s|
|Ursids||URS||Dec 17-25||Dec 22-23||10||14h28m||76°||0.0m||-0.4°||33 km/s|
Antihelion Source (ANT) Radiant Centre Locations
The use of the “Antihelion Source” relates to the problem of distinguishing between a large number of minor shower radiants that are active around the anti-solar position on the ecliptic throughout the year. With the radiants involved often being close together, it has been virtually impossible for visual observers to reliably assign a given meteor to the correct minor shower. Hence, rather than maintain an unreliable list of minor showers along the ecliptic, the solution has been to assign all such meteors to this “antihelion source”. The only exceptions to this have been those showers that are strong enough to clearly stand out above the background levels, these being the Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids in the summer and the Taurids in the autumn.
Source is active all year except during STA & NTA; Better ZHRs (3-4) likely in March-April, early & late May & June, and early July; Radiant area is about 30° in RA by 15° in Dec.
|September 15||STA only|
|October 1||STA only|
|October 15||NTA & STA|
|November 1||NTA & STA|
|November 15||NTA & STA|
|December 1||NTA only|