Meteor Shower Dates, Times and Viewing Guide for 2014

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower Credit: David Kingham Photography

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower Credit: David Kingham Photography facebook page

The table below shows dates, times and basic information on each of the the annual meteor showers in 2014.

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+ New Moon More info
Lyrids 16th – 25th April 21st/ 22nd April 25+ waxing gibbous More info
Eta Aquarids 19th April  – 28th May 4th/ 5th May 25+ waxing crescent More info
Meteor Storm – (TBC) 24th May 24th May 100 – 1000+
waning crescent More info
Perseids 23rd July – August 20th 12th August 100+ waning gibbous More info
Draconids 2nd – 16th October 7th/ 8th October 25+ Full Moon More info
Orionids 16th – 27th October 20th/ 21st October 20+ New Moon More info
Southern Taurids 20th October – 30th November 4th/ 5th  November 5+ Full Moon More info
Northern Taurids 20th October – 30th November 11th/ 12th November 5+ waning gibbous More info
Leonids 15th – 20th November 16th/ 17th November 30-300 waning crescent More info
Geminids 7th – 16th December 13th/14th December 120+ Last quarter More info

2014 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 2014 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 of only a few hours hours before dawn on the 3rd.

In 2014 we have a Moon free sky, so most of the meteors will be visible with good viewing conditions from a dark site. Quadrantids produce up to 100 meteors per hour at peak and when at their best as they are expected to be this year, rival the Perseid Meteor Shower in August! The best time to look for Quadrantid meteors is the evening of the 2nd and 3rd of January through to dawn.

here’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 Quadrantids is in the constellation of Boötes.

Quadrantid Meteor Credit: nasa.org

Quadrantid Meteor Credit: nasa.org

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 usually lack long persistent trails but can produce very bright firebals. In the past the lyrids have been known to peak at rates of 100 meteors per hour.

In 2014 on the evening of the peak (April 21st/22nd) the waxing gibbous Moon won’t interfere with watching the shower, the best time to see the Lyrids is after midnight and before dawn.

The radiant of the Lyrids is in the constellation of Lyra.

Lyrid Meteor and Milky Way Credit & Copyright: Tony Rowell / Astrophotostore.com APOD

Lyrid Meteor and Milky Way Credit & Copyright: Tony Rowell / APOD

Eta Aquarids

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.

Captured by John Chumack from his backyard observatory in  Dayton, Ohio USA

Captured by John Chumack from his backyard observatory in Dayton, Ohio USA

Meteor Storm (209P-ids)

We may be in for a treat with this new discovery. On May 24th Earth will plough through the debris stream of comet 209P/LINEAR, a periodic comet discovered in 2004. Astronomers from NASA and Russia estimate the meteor shower (209P-ids) could produce 100 – 400 meteors per hour, but could outburst to over a 1000 meteors per hour. These figures are estimates, but expect abundant meteors and possibly a dramatic sight on May 24th, a nearly new Moon will provide good viewing conditions.

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 Meteor Storm is in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Meteor Storm

Meteor Storm Credit: The Abraham Lincoln Observer

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 2014 the sky will be awash with the light from an almost full Moon, so only the brighter meteors and fireballs will be visible and fainter meteors drowned out. This isn’t too much of a problem as Perseids are abundant and we always enjoy the bright ones more.

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 Perseids are one of the meteor showers covered by the #meteorwatch twitter event, where thousands of people worldwide share their experiences and images.

The radiant of the Perseid meteor shower is in the constellation of Perseus.

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower Credit: David Kingham Photography

Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower Credit: David Kingham Photography facebook page

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.

Draconid Fireball over Örnsköldsvik, Sweden Credit:  Göran Fredriksson

Draconid Fireball over Örnsköldsvik, Sweden Credit:
Göran Fredriksson

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. In 2014 the Moon is absent so you may be lucky and see more.

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.

A composite image of every meteor captured in a viewing session for the 2011 Orionid Meteor shower at Middle Falls, near Mount Shasta in California. Credit: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography. Used by permission. Universe Today

Orionid Meteor shower at Middle Falls, near Mount Shasta in California. Credit: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography. Used by permission. Universe Today

Taurids

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.

Taurid meteor Credit: Tripadviser

Taurid Meteor Credit: Tripadvisor

Leonid Meteor Shower

The Leonids start on November 15th and end on the 20th, peak is on the evening of the 17th/18th. 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 radiant of the Leonid meteor shower is in the constellation of Leo.

Leonids Over Monument ValleyImage Credit & Copyright: Sean M. Sabatini

Leonids Over Monument Valley
Image Credit & Copyright: Sean M. Sabatini APOD

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.

Geminid Meteor Shower Eye Of the Needle Credit: David Kingham Photography - facebook page

Geminid Meteor Shower Eye Of the Needle Credit: David Kingham Photographyfacebook page

For more information about meteor showers please browse the rest of this website or contact @VirtualAstro on twitter.