(photo courtesy of NASA)
This year's Perseids Meteor Shower
(Active from July 17th to August 26th, 2020; peak on Aug 11-12, 2020)
The Perseids are the most popular meteor shower each year, as they peak on warm August nights as seen from here in Colorado. The Perseids are active from July 17 to August 24. This year they will reach a strong maximum on August 11 and 12. Normal rates seen from Crestone range from 50-75 shooting stars per hour at maximum. Only slight problem for this year's peak night, is that the moon will be 47% full. The Perseids are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during its numerous returns to the inner solar system. They are called Perseids since the radiant (the area of the sky where the meteors seem to originate) is located near the prominent constellation of Perseus.
It should also be noted that 2 others showers that are still taking place in August, the Southern delta Aquariids, and the alpha Capricornids, while past their peaks, will still be active in our skies, and will add some to our viewing, especially in the first week of the month. The alpha Capricornids will remain visible until August 15 while the Southern delta Aquariids will still be active until August 23. One last interesting note on the alpha Capricornids, is that they are known to put out a number of bright fireballs during its activity period, and have been doing so this summer over parts of Colorado in the last week of July.
One last note, in general, most major meteor showers are best seen after midnight. Usually, a better time to see them is after 2 a.m., and the best time is about an hour or so just before morning twilight. They can appear anywhere in the sky, but in most cases, our eastern skies seem to show off the most for these showers.
|Shower||Radiant/Direction||Activity Period||Max Date||# per hr*||Comet|
|Quadrantids (QUA)||Draco (NE)||Jan 1- Jan 17||Jan 04||60 to120||2003 EH|
|Lyrids (LYR)||Lyra (E)||Apr 14- Apr 30||Apr 22||10 to 20||Thatcher|
|Eta Aquarids (ETA)**||Aquarius (E)||Apr 17- May 24||May 5||20 to 60||Halley|
|Delta Aquarids (SDA)||Aquarius (S)||Jul 21- Aug 23||Jul 29||17 to 20||96P/Machholz|
|Perseids (PER)**||Perseus (NE)||Jul 17- Sept 1||Aug 12||60 - 100||Swift-Tuttle|
|Oct 6 -10
Sept 23- Nov 27
|Southern Taurid (STA)**||Taurus (S)||Sept 8 - Nov 20||Nov 5||5 to 20||2P/Encke|
|Leonids (LEO)||Leo (E)||Nov 2- Nov 30||Nov 17||10 to 20||Temple-Tuttle|
|Geminids (GEM)||Gemini (S)||Dec 1- Dec 22||Dec 14||60 to 120||3200 Phaethon|
|Ursids (URS)||Ursa Minor (N)||Dec 19- Dec 24||Dec 22||10||8P/Tuttle|
* Number per hour is for a moonless rural sky
** Strong moonlight will interfere with these showers this year
Italic type indicates the best predicted showers for 2020
There are meteor showers taking place every day/night of the year, but
many are hard to see. The meteor showers listed above are the easiest to
observe and provide the most activity. All of these showers are best seen after
midnight. Some are not even visible until after midnight. Particular attention
should be noted to the moonlight conditions. Showers that peak with
the moon at half or more full will be affected by the moonlight and will be
difficult to observe. While the dates noted above for when each shower is best seen
close to the same dates year after year, the moonlight conditions change considerably from
one year to the next.
Crestone Current Weather Conditions