Meteor Shower Dates, Times and Viewing Guide for 2013
The table below shows dates, times and basic information on each of the the annual meteor showers in 2013.
A summary for each meteor shower will follow with more detail after the table.
|Meteor Shower||Date||Peak||ZHR||Moon Phase|
|Quadrantids||1st – 6th January||2nd/ 3rd January||100+||waning gibbous||More info|
|Lyrids||16th – 25th April||21st/ 22nd April||25+||waxing gibbous||More info|
|Eta Aquarids||19th April – 28th May||4th/ 5th May||25+||waning crescent||More info|
|Perseids||23rd July – August 20th||12th August||100+||waxing crescent||More info|
|Draconids||2nd – 16th October||7th/ 8th October||25+||waxing crescent||More info|
|Orionids||16th – 27th October||20th/ 21st October||20+||waning gibbous||More info|
|Southern Taurids||20th October – 30th November||4th/ 5th November||5+||waxing crescent||More info|
|Northern Taurids||20th October – 30th November||11th/ 12th November||5+||waxing gibbous||More info|
|Leonids||15th – 20th November||16th/ 17th November||30-300||full||More info|
|Geminids||7th – 16th December||13th/14th December||120+||waxing gibbous||More info|
2013 looks like it’s going to be a very good year (weather permitting) for meteor watching. The moon should not interfere with most of the major meteor showers.
Meteor Shower Dates and Times for 2013 in Detail:
Not all of the annual meteor showers are listed – only the popular ones which may be of interest to the beginner or casual observer. Most of the showers listed have good to high rates of meteors visible per hour.
A Meteor showers name relates to the constellation it originates from; The “Radiant”. Many guides confuse and lead people to believe they need to look in the direction of a meteor showers radiant to see meteors, this is incorrect!
To see meteors during a meteor shower or any other night of the year, all you need to do is look up, fill your gaze with sky, in no particular direction. Meteors appear randomly in any part of the sky. You can tell if a meteor is from a particular shower by tracing its path back to the meteor showers radiant. Not all meteors/ shooting stars are from a meteor shower some are sporadic (rogue) and enter earths atmosphere every night of the year.
For more information on what to expect and a simple guide please see: How to Observe Meteors.
Quadrantid Meteor Shower
The Quadrantid meteor shower begins on the 1st of January and ends on the 6th, It has a narrow sharp peak in the hours before dawn on the 3rd.
In 2013 the moon will just be past full, so most of the meteors will be washed out and invisible. Quadrantids produce up to 100 meteors per hour at peak and the peak rate is difficult to predict. It may be worth while looking for Quadrantids on the evening of the 4th and to check the IMO activity reports before setting out.
The radiant of the Quadrantids is in the constellation of Boötes.
Lyrid Meteor Shower
After the Quadrantids we have a break from meteor showers and then we have the Lyrids – April’s shooting stars, where I always feel the meteor watching season starts.
The Lyrids begin on the 16th April and end on the 25th producing up to 20 meteors per hour at peak on the evening of the 21st/ 22nd April. Lyrid meteors are easy to spot as they are bright and leave long persistent trails. In the past the lyrids have been known to peak at rates of 100 meteors per hour.
In 2013 on the evening of the peak (April 21st/22nd) there will be a waxing gibbous moon for most of the evening, this should not affect viewing too much as the best time to see the Lyrids is after midnight and before dawn.
The radiant of the Lyrids is in the constellation of Lyra.
The Eta Aquarids start in April and end in May with their peak in the hours before dawn on May 5th. I have included them in this list as they may be worth while seeing for Southern Hemisphere observers, but in the North there may only be 10 to 20 meteors an hour before sunrise. This meteor shower is more for the die-hard meteor watchers and may be worth watching before sunrise on or a day or so either side of the peak.
The radiant of the Eta Aquarids is in the constellation of Aquarius.
Perseid Meteor Shower
The Perseid meteor shower starts late July and ends mid August, with its peak on and around the 12th of August. The Perseids are my favorite and the most popular meteor shower of the year.
Perseids are fast, bright and can produce bright fireballs, at their peak they can produce over 100 meteors per hour on a warm summers evening. Peak is on August 12th, but activity may be very high on the evenings of the 10th/11th, 11th/12th and 12th/13th.
In 2013 we are in for a treat with the waxing crescent moon setting mid evening, just in time for the shooting stars to appear. If the skies are clear we can look forward to dark skies and we may be able to see many of the fainter Perseids as well as the brighter fireballs.
The Perseids are probably the best meteor shower of the year for a first timer, the nights are warmer and in general people are more geared up in their gardens to enjoy an evening outside.
There’s no equipment or real skill needed to watch a meteor shower, you just need to be comfortable, patient and you only need your eyes. Check out the guide on how to observe meteors.
The radiant of the Perseid meteor shower is in the constellation of Perseus.
Draconid Meteor Shower
The Draconids start on October 2nd and end on the 16th, they peak on October 7th. This meteor shower is usually quite minor with roughly 20 or so meteors per hour at peak, but it has been known to flare up with hundreds of meteors per hour.
The good thing with this meteor shower is you can start looking for meteors straight after dark as the radiant point is almost overhead in the Northern hemisphere. This makes it a nice early shower to view – Will it produce hundreds of meteors this year or will there only be a few? Go outside, look up and we shall see…
The radiant of the Draconid meteor shower is in the constellation of Draco.
Orionid Meteor Shower
The Orionids start on October 16th and end on the 27th, the peak of the meteor shower is on the evening of the 20th/ 21st. The Orionids are one of the lesser showers with expected rates of only 10 – 20 meteors per hour and in 2013 the will be a (almost full) bright waning gibbous moon.
Orionid meteors are usually very fast and bright and can produce bright fireballs, which is lucky as we need something bright to punch through the washed out sky in the hours after midnight and before dawn on the 21st. Unfortunately 2013 is a bad year for Orionids.
The radiant of the Orionid meteor shower is in the constellation of Orion.
There are actually 2 meteor showers here; The Southern Taurids and Northern Taurids, they start on October 20th and end on November 30th. Southern Taurids peak on the evening of the 4th/ 5th November and the Northern Taurids peak on the evening of the 11th/ 12th November.
This is a very long duration shower with a low rate of about 5 meteors per hour. The peak does not increase much from this, but both Taurid showers span over a month. Taurids may well be few, but they are very bright with bright fireballs and well worth keeping an eye out for as the winter nights begin to draw in.
The radiant of the Taurid meteor showers is in the constellation of Taurus.
Leonid Meteor Shower
The Leonids start on November 15th and end on the 20th, peak is on the evening of the 16th/ 17th. The Leonids are usually a quiet shower of around 15 meteors per hour, but are famous for their outbursts especially the last major one in 1966, where many thousands of meteors fell from the sky like rain. Witnesses said they could feel the earth travelling through space and had to hold onto fixed objects as the sensation was so strong. It was similar to a car driving in a snow storm, but this was no car, it was our planet!
These meteor storms are expected roughly every 33 years (the orbital period of the showers parent comet) but not this year, we should expect the showers normal 10 to 20 meteors per hour. The Leonids in 2013 will share the sky with a full moon, restricting the amount of meteors seen possibly to a small handful. Not a good year for Leonids.
The radiant of the Leonid meteor shower is in the constellation of Leo.
The Geminid Meteor Shower
The Geminids start December 7th and end on the 16th, peak is on the evening of the 13th/14th. The Geminid meteor shower is another favorite of mine and is considered by many astronomers to be the most reliable meteor shower of the year.
Geminids produce over 100 meteors per hour at their peak which are slow and bright. The great thing about Geminids is; if you have clear dark skies and a little patience, you will see shooting stars.
There’s a big difference between the Geminids and other meteor showers, the Geminids don’t originate from a comet – they come from an asteroid (3200 Phaethon). Meteors from this shower are very rocky and gritty and slightly easier to see compared to the other showers.
The Geminids are another great shower for beginners or groups or as part of an event such as #meteorwatch, all you need is to dress warm, be comfortable, patient and use your eyes. See the guide on to how to observe meteors.
The radiant of the Geminid meteor shower is in the constellation of Gemini.