Meteor showers 2018: Here are the top meteor showers that will take place next year
But which ones are worth your time? Here is our definite guide to all the meteor showers happening in the 2018 celestial calendar.
Peak viewing: January 3-4
The first major meteor shower of 2018 is usually one of the best and is easily seen from the Northern Hemisphere.
The Quadrantids, named after the now-defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis, have their radiant in the constellation Boötes.
This year’s display coincides with a full moon so there will be less shooting stars than usual, with space agency NASA predicting up to 40 meteors an hour overnight.
Peak viewing: April 22-23
The Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers, observed as early as 687 B.C.
Its source, the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, wasn’t discovered until much later in 1861.
Named after constellation Lyra, the Lyrids are created by debris from comet Thatcher which takes approximately 415 years to orbit around the sun.
The meteor shower peaks during late April every year and although not as fast or prominent as others, a typical shower averages 20 meteors per hour.
This year’s display, from April 22 to 23, will be marked by a quarter moon which, according to Timeanddate.com, might make the shooting stars harder to see.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will see up to 30 meteors an hour at its peak
Peak viewing: May 4-5
Stargazers impressed by speedy shooting stars need to put Eta Aquarius in their diary.
NASA estimates these meteors can travel up to 66km per second (148,000 mph), with up to 30 meteors darting across the sky at their peak.
Although best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, there are lots of chances to see them as the meteor shower lasts almost a month from late April to mid-May.
It is likely to peak on May 6 just before dawn, according to Timeanddate.com.
Peak viewing: July 28-29
The Delta Aquarius meteor shower usually occurs between July 23 and August 23 every year but the best time to watch them in 2018 will be around July 28 and 29.
These faint meteors are difficult to spot, and if there is a moon you will not be able to view them
The name comes from the constellation Aquarius, where the meteors radiate, while Delta is its third brightest star.
Last year, stargazers saw dazzling displays but this year a full moon is due around the same time.
This will be problematic, according to NASA. The American space agency said: “These faint meteors are difficult to spot, and if there is a moon you will not be able to view them.”
The Perseids meteor shower is one of the most dazzling shooting start events
Peak viewing: August 12-13
Astronomy website Sky and Telescope is predicting that the Perseids will be one of the two stand-out meteor showers in 2018.
Considered one of the year’s brighter celestial displays, the Perseids are popular with astronomers and stargazers as they offer some of the most plentiful showers (50 to 100 meteors per hour) from a dark place.
They also occur during the summer months when the weather is warmer and more consistent so they are easier to see.
The shower should peak overnight from August 12 to 13, according to Timeanddate.com, and can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
It recommends to “look between the radiant, which will be in the north-east part of the sky, and the zenith (the point in the sky directly above you).
The Draconid meteors are named after the constellation Draco the Dragon
Peaking viewing: October 8
While considered one of the quieter and less interesting meteor showers, the Draconids will benefit from a new moon in 2018.
The name is bestowed from the constellation Draco the Dragon and the meteors comes from the dust debris of comet 21P / Giacobini-Zinner.
Next year’s peak will be on October 8 and viewing is recommended in the evening.
The Royal Observatory of Greenwich (ROG) says this is because the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky at nightfall.
The Taurids are a slow burning shower that peaks early November
Peak viewing: November 17
Peaking in early November, the Taurid meteor shower is a slow affair, stretching out infrequently over two months.
This meteor shower “is caused caused by the Earth ploughing through debris left behind by Comet Encke”, according to ROG’s website.
“The comet stream is very spread out and dispersed, which is why it takes the Earth a relatively long time to pass through.
“It is also why we see two separate segments of the shower: the South Taurids (September 25 – November 25) and the North Taurids (October 12 – December 2).”
The Leonid meteors burst out in the sky every mid-November
Peak viewing: November 17-18
The Leonids are a dazzling array of falling stars which streak across the sky every mid-November.
They happen as the Earth’s orbit passes through the debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.
NASA has previously described this nighttime odyssey as the fastest shooting stars known to man.
During its strongest outbursts, more than 1,000 meteors per minute were recorded in 1799, 1833, 1866 and 1966.
Peak date: December 14
The last major meteor shower of 2018, the Geminids are one of the most awesome displays of the year.
Known to produce up to 100 meteors an hour during their peak, this month’s display saw more than 75 shooting stars an hour.
The meteors originated from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which takes about 1.4 years to orbit the sun and are viewed from anywhere around the world.
A waxing crescent Moon is expected to create optimal viewing conditions in 2018.
The Ursids meteor shower is the very last meteor event of the year
Peak viewing: December 22
It’s one of the quieter celestial displays of the years and unfortunately 2018 is not expected to be the greatest for the Ursids.
The peak on December 22 will coincide with a full moon meaning visibility is likely to be difficult.