Meteor showers come a few times a year, and there are some pretty cool ones happening this winter and spring. Grab a coat, a blanket or two (or five), and some friends and witness these rare moments of beauty. We also suggested a few of our favorite places to watch meteor showers based on their proximity to places with really dark skies, emphaszing desert areas with great visibility.
Don't Miss These Stunning Meteor Showers In 2016 and 2017!
1. Geminids Meteor Shower
When to watch: December 13th and 14th, 2016
This meteor shower can be annually viewed between December 4th and 17th, but will peak this year late in the night of the 13th, into the very early morning of the 14th. This particular meteor shower is different than the rest, as instead of being associated with a comet, this shower is associated with an asteroid. This change makes the Gemenids one of the more amazing meteor showers, with a high chance of seeing at least 120 meteors per hour during the peak. With a full moon out, your view of the shower may be a little obscured, but if you head out to an area away for city lights, you should be able to see the Geminids from any physical location.
2. Ursids Meteor Shower
When to watch: December 21st and 22nd, 2016
This minor but highly visible meteor shower takes place this year at the end of December 21st into the beginning of the 22nd. Whether you decide to wait past midnight, or travel outside of the city, this meteor shower is worth the show this winter. From the Northern Hemisphere, the shower should be very visible due to the waning moon. You’ll only be able to see about 10 meteors per shower, but the visibility will make for great pictures, and even greater memories.
3. Quadrantids Meteor Shower
When to watch: January 3rd and 4th, 2017
The Quadrantids shower is rare, in the sense that to see it, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Make sure you’re far away from city lights on the night of January 3rd into the morning of the 4th. The first quarter moon will make this shower very visible, but the peak of the shower only lasts for about one or two hours, so make sure you’re outside after midnight on the 4th. This shower is only available for viewing in the Northern Hemisphere.
4. Lyrids Meteor Shower
When to watch: April 23rd, 2017
The Lyrids may be oldest known meteor shower, but they still provide for some amazing pictures. This spring, the Lyrids take place from after midnight until dawn on the 23rd, and feature some shooting stars in the eastern sky. Viewers in the Northern and parts of the Southern Hemisphere will be able to see this shower as long as they distance themselves from city lights and look up! The waning crescent moon will put all the meteors and shooting stars in perfect viewing position.
5. Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
When to watch: May 6th, 2017
The dust from Comet Halley makes up this meteor shower, and this is one you won’t want to miss. For the Southern Hemisphere, up to 60 meteors per hour can be shown, and up to 30 per hour in the North. The peak of this shower takes place midnight on Saturday, May 6th and shooting stars can typically be seen right before dawn. The waxing gibbous moon may block out some of the dimmer meteors, but after midnight, the brightest meteors will shine through. This is an above-average meteor shower that is perfect for taking cool pictures or watching the sun rise. The timing is just right for you to plan a perfect stargazing weekend getaway, too!
This article was written by Kellyn Nettles.