Page Created: 2005 February 21
Page Last Updated: 2015 January 4

Welcome to Starlight Cascade Observatory 2015 Meteor Showers!
Near Yarker, Ontario, Canada. (44.22.39 N 76.45.47 W    155M Elevation)

Meteor Showers

How many times as a child, did we hear " Quick make a wish, there goes a falling star?" Many children today are told the same fable line, but as children, did we ever wonder wha t these falling stars really were? These "falling stars" that streaked across the sky are known as Meteors. Meteors are small particles, which originated from debris and dust from Comets, are normally no larger than a grain of sand, that once they enter our atmosphere, at speeds of up to 70 kilometres pe r second, can produce a streak of light across the sky. These meteors become visible to th e naked eye at an altitude of about 100 kilometres. Most of these small particles will eva porate from the effects of heat before they reach the earth, but for some larger particles that make it to the earth and land, they are known as meteorites.

Meteors are visible on any clear night, however like most observing, the darker the skies the more you will see. A greater number of meteors are usually seen in the early morning due to the earth's rotation. As the earth moves into the stream of particles, the individual is facing into this stream, thus seeing more meteors collide into our atmosphere. There are generally two groups of Meteors. Those that come from a random area of the sky, known as sporadics, and those that come from a particular area known as a radiant, which belong to radiant showers. An example of a radiant shower is the Perseids, which is located between the constellations, Perseus and Cassiopeia. This shower is thought to have come from the debris of Comet P/Swift-Tuttle. The shower date is in August of each year. Below is a chart of Northern Hemisphere Meteor Showers that occur throughout a given year.

NAMN 2015 Meteor Shower Calendar

This shower calendar has been adapted from the Working List of Visual Meteor Showers published by the International Meteor Organization (IMO). We express our appreciation for permission to use this material. For additional information contact Mark Davis

Shower                    Activity      Maximum    Radiant     V     r     ZHR    IMO
                           Period         Date                km/s                Code
                                                 h  m   °

Antihelion Source       Dec 10-Sep 10  March-April Various    30    3.0      4    ANT
Quadrantids             Dec 28-Jan 12   Jan 04    15 20 +49   41    2.1    120    QUA
alpha-Centaurids        Jan 28-Feb 21   Feb 08    14 00 -59   56    2.0      6    ACE
gamma-Normids           Feb 25-Mar 28   Mar 15    15 56 -50   56    2.4      6    GNO
Lyrids                  Apr 16-Apr 25   Apr 22    18 04 +34   49    2.1     18    LYR
pi-Puppids              Apr 15-Apr 28   Apr 24    07 20 -45   18    2.0    var.   PPU
eta-Aquarids            Apr 19-May 28   May 06    22 32 -01   66    2.4     65    ETA
eta-Lyrids              May 03-May 14   May 09    19 08 +44   43    3.0      3    ELY
June Bootids            Jun 22-Jul 02   Jun 27    14 56 +48   18    2.2    var.   JBO
Piscis Austrinids       Jul 15-Aug 10   Jul 28    22 44 -30   35    3.2      5    PAU
Southern delta-Aquarids Jul 12-Aug 23   Jul 30    22 40 -16   41    3.2     16    SDA
alpha-Capricornids      Jul 03-Aug 15   Jul 30    20 28 -10   23    2.5      5    CAP
Perseids                Jul 17-Aug 24   Aug 13    03 12 +58   59    2.2    100    PER
kappa-Cygnids           Aug 03-Aug 25   Aug 18    19 04 +59   25    3.0      3    KCG
Aurigids                Aug 28-Sep 05   Sep 01    06 04 +39   66    2.5      6    AUR
Sep. epsilon-Perseids   Sep 05-Sep 21   Sep 09    03 12 +47   64    3.0      5    SPE
Draconids               Oct 06-Oct 10   Oct 09    17 28 +54   20    2.6    var.   DRA
Southern Taurids        Sep 10-Nov 20   Oct 10    02 08 +09   27    2.3      5    STA
delta-Aurigids          Oct 10-Oct 18   Oct 11    05 36 +44   64    3.0      2    DAU
epsilon-Geminids        Oct 14-Oct 27   Oct 18    06 48 +27   70    3.0      3    EGE
Orionids                Oct 02-Nov 07   Oct 21    06 20 +16   66    2.5     25    ORI
Leo Minorids            Oct 19-Oct 27   Oct 24    10 48 +38   62    3.0      2    LMI
Northern Taurids        Oct 20-Dec 10   Nov 12    03 52 +22   29    2.3      5    NTA
Leonids                 Nov 06-Nov 30   Nov 18    10 08 +22   71    2.5     15    LEO
alpha-Monocerotids      Nov 15-Nov 25   Nov 22    07 48 +01   65    2.4    var.   AMO
Phoenicids              Nov 28-Dec 09   Dec 06    01 12 -53   18    2.8    var.   PHO
Puppid-Velids           Dec 01-Dec 15   Dec 07    08 12 -45   40    2.9     10    PUP
Monocerotids            Nov 27-Dec 17   Dec 09    06 40 +08   42    3.0      2    MON
sigma-Hydrids           Dec 03-Dec 15   Dec 12    08 28 +02   58    3.0      3    HYD
Geminids                Dec 04-Dec 17   Dec 14    07 28 +33   35    2.6    120    GEM
Comae Berenicids        Dec 12-Jan 23   Dec 16    11 40 +18   65    3.0      3    COM
December Leo Minorids   Dec 05-Feb 04   Dec 20    10 44 +30   64    3.0      5    DLM
Ursids                  Dec 17-Dec 26   Dec 23    14 28 +76   33    3.0     10    URS

Radiant positions are listed in right ascension and declination co-ordinates. The column "V" is the velocity in kilometres per second. The letter "r" is the population index. "Code" is the abbreviation for the shower that observers should use when reporting meteor observations. (Taken from the Website of NAMN - with permission from Mark Davis NAMN Co-ordinator)
Meteor observing does not require a lot of fancy or expensive equipment. Whether observing for pleasure, or to collect data for scientific purposes your main instrument will be your eyes. Some other equipment that might be useful, are a comfortable reclining chair, blankets, pen, paper, or recording device, plus batteries, a watch, string and some warm liquid to keep you warm. The dew has a habit of sneaking up on you and keeping warm and dry are very important for any observing sessions.
There are of course a few simple exercises to help you along the way. First get a good star map, preferably one with magnitude ratings on the charts. Learning the night sky and its constellations is a great benefit both in meteor observing and regular observing. The magnitude ratings beside the stars help you determine how dark your night sky is for viewing, plus the magnitude determination of the meteor that you see. The higher the positive number you can see with your eyes, the fainter the stars you are seeing, which means the better the night time sky. As the number goes down, this means the sky is not as clear for viewing. Anything that is below a 5.0 magnitude is not worth collecting meteor data, but you can certainly continue to look at the meteors and determine what shower they belong too. As for meteor magnitude determination, the higher the positive magnitude, the fainter the meteor, and the lower the positive or negative number, the brighter the meteor.
Now, that you are familiar with the night sky, let's settle back and observe just a portion of the sky. Generally you should not look directly at the radiant of the meteor shower, but 45 degrees away from it. This allows your eyes to catch meteors that come in on several angles so that you can draw or trace the meteor back to the radiant, and can tell what shower the meteor belonged too. This is where the string comes in. Some people use it as a guide to help them trace the meteor back to the radiant.
When you see the meteor, note the time, the magnitude, trace back to a possible radiant shower and if the meteor has colour or a tail. Some meteors, if they are bright enough are called a fireball or bolide (generally anything under a -4 magnitude). Another group, Meteorite and Impacts Advisory Committee track fireballs and Bolides. Reports are sent in to MIAC for the possibility of impact sites and for meteorites. This is another aspect that you can become involved in scientific research by observing meteors.
Though it seems like a lot to do all at once, if you try the simple exercises and do meteor observing in steps, things will all come together. Try observing during a minor shower, or several days before a major shower, to get a feel for what the night time sky can offer. You will soon learn not only the sky, but feel like you are part of the universe, and see the history of past comets as they streak across the sky, which are known as Meteors.

Reference Materials:

  • Observers Handbook published by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
  • North American Meteor Network (NAMN) Guide
  • International Meteor Organization (IMO) Handbook for Visual Meteor Observers
  • Compact Catalogue of Canadian Meteorites MIAC
  • The American Meteor Society AMS
  • Meteor Estimator

    Daytime Meteors

  • Daytime Arietids-AMS

    Comet Information

  • Canadian Comet Catchers

    Comet Images from around the World

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -Comet McNaught
  • Gianluca Masi
  • Italy Vello Tabor's Site
  • Pictures from down Under

    majdenobsaAll Sky Camera & Fireball Detection

    North American All Sky Camera Database
    Waiting for Bolides - The Sandia Labs All-Sky Camera Network
    Studies at Majden Observatory (AMS)- Ed Majden-Courtenay BC
    Ed Majden's Home Page
    SPMN- Spanish Photographic Meteor Network
    Starlight Cascade Observatory- All Sky 2 working with UWO
    Once you have spotted a fireball by eye or on tape fill out the form below and send in-help with the research of fireballs, and possible landing of meteorites

    MIAC Fireball Reporting Form-for Canadian Fireball Reports