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Meteor Showers for 2021

Color code

Good
Fair
Poor

This table is intended as an aid to meteor watchers in southern California. Meteors are best observed from dark wilderness locations, far from city lights. The glow from light-pollution in most cities and suburbs allows only a few bright meteors to be seen. The brightness of the Moon must also be taken into account, as it can have a large effect on the number of meteors that will be visible. Some meteor showers have a very brief peak, lasting only a few hours, and sometimes the peak occurs at a time when the shower is not visible from southern California. These factors have been taken into account on the table below, and each meteor shower is tagged with a color code; green means excellent conditions, orange indicates the presence of some moonlight or marginal predictions, and red means most of the meteors will be blocked by moonlight or some other time factor. The estimates of numbers of meteors per hour are based on viewing from a dark sky location in southern California.

The best way to watch a meteor shower is to travel to a wilderness area or campground that has a dark sky. It’s best to choose a night when the Moon is not visible during the shower. Most meteor showers are strongest after midnight and until dawn. Dress warmly and lie back on a deck chair or lounge, so you are looking up at the sky. Don’t look at bright lights like flashlights or cell phone displays which can desensitize your eyes for ten minutes or more.

Because Griffith Observatory is surrounded by urban light glow, Griffith Park and the Observatory are not recommended as meteor shower observing locations, and are not open after normal closing time (10:00 p.m.).


image of the moonPeak Night
January 2/3

Quadrantids

Active: December 28 – January 12

When can it be observed?: From 11:00 p.m. until dawn (5:30 a.m.)
Approximate peak hour: 4:30-5:30 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 90 meteors per hour. This rate may be cut in half by the presence of bright moonlight.

Quadrantids likely are particles from the extinct comet 2003 EH1. They hit our atmosphere with a velocity of 25 miles (41 kilometers) per second.

The meteors stream from a radiant located in the northern part of Boötes the Herdsman, between the main figure of Boötes and the handle of the Big Dipper, the site of an obsolete constellation, Quadrans Muralis the Mural Quadrant.

Notes: Bright waning gibbous moon present.

Fair viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
April 21/22

Lyrids

Active: April 16 – April 26

When can it be observed?: 10:00 p.m. to 4:44 a.m. (dawn).
Approximate peak hour: 3:44-4:44 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 18 meteors per hour.

Lyrid meteors are particles shed by the comet C/1861 G (Thatcher). They hit our atmosphere at 27 miles (43 kilometers) per second.

The radiant of the Lyrids is close to the brilliant star Vega in Lyra the Lyre, at the zenith (the point directly overhead) when dawn starts.

Notes: The moon sets at 3:47 a.m., allowing the maximum of the shower to be observed with no significant interference.

Good viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
May 4/5

Eta Aquariids

Active: April 19 – May 28

When can it be observed?: 3:00 a.m. until dawn ( 4:25 a.m.)
Approximate peak hour: 3:25-4:25 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 18 meteors per hour.

Eta Aquariids are particles shed by comet 1P/Halley. They hit our atmosphere at 41 miles (66 kilometers) per second.

Notes: The rising of the waning crescent moon at 3:13 a.m. will have little effect on observing the peak hour of meteors.

Good viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
July 27/28

South Delta Aquariids

Active: July 21 – August 23

When can it be observed?: 10:00 p.m. to dawn (4:27 a.m.).
Approximate peak hour: 2:34-3:34 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 12 meteors per hour. This number will be reduced by bright moonlight.

South Delta Aquariid meteors may be produced by particles shed by a sun-grazing comet. They strike our atmosphere at 25 miles (41 kilometers) per second.

The radiant of the shower is in the constellation Aquarius the Water Carrier, found in the southern sky after midnight.

Notes: Moonlight will significantly interfere with observations.

Fair viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
August 11/12

Perseids

Active: July 17 – August 24

When can it be observed?: 10:00 p.m.-4:40 a.m.
Approximate peak hour: 3:40-4:40 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 83 meteors per hour.

Perseid meteors are produced by particles shed by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. They hit our atmosphere at 37 miles (59 kilometers) per second.

Notes: The moon sets just as the meteors start to appear, resulting in ideal conditions for viewing the shower at its strongest.

Good viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
October 20/21

Orionids

Active: October 2 – November 7

When can it be observed?: 11:30 p.m.-5:40 a.m.
Approximate peak hour: 4:40-5:40 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 19 meteors per hour, but nearly full moon will prevent all but the brightest meteors from being seen.

Orionids are particles shed by comet 1P/Halley, and they hit our atmosphere at 41 miles (66 kilometers) per second.

The meteors appear to stream from the imaginary upraised club of the constellation Orion the Hunter.

Notes: A nearly full moon will severely interfere with meteor observations.

Poor viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
November 16/17

Leonids

Active: November 6 – 30

When can it be observed?: 11:30 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
Approximate peak hour: 4:00-5:00 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 18 meteors per hour. Bright moonlight will greatly reduce the observed rate.

Leonid meteors are particles shed by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. They hit our atmosphere at a rapid 44 miles (71 kilometers) per second.

Leonid meteors appear to stream from the “sickle” of the constellation Leo the Lion.

Notes: The nearly full moon sets at 4:51 a.m., only minutes before the start of dawn, so its bright light will spoil most of the opportunity to see Leonid meteors this year.

Poor viewing conditions


image of the moonPeak Night
December 13/14

Geminids

Active: December 4 – 17

When can it be observed?: 8:00 p.m.-5:22 a.m.
Approximate peak hour: 1:23-2:23 a.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 150 meteors per hour, but rates will be decreased by bright moonlight until 2:45 a.m.

Geminids are particles shed by asteroid 3200 Phaeton, likely a “rock comet.” The particles hit our atmosphere at 22 miles (35 kilometers) per second.

The shower’s radiant is close to the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini the Twins.

Notes: The Geminids are usually the strongest annual meteor shower. The moon will offer some interference through the peak hour of the shower, until it sets at 2:45 a.m. Observing conditions then become ideal.

Fair viewing conditions