Meteor Showers

Barbara J. Feldman

Meteor showers are cyclical, predictable events because they are formed from the icy rock debris shed by comets as they pass the Sun. The following sites explain why they happen, when they occur, and offer tips on how to best view them.

  • Meteors and Meteor Showers5 stars

    From the print magazine Astronomy, comes this excellent one-page introduction to meteors and meteor showers. "The science of meteor astronomy began in 1833, when a storm of 60,000 meteors an hour shocked the world. By the 1860s, it had become clear that many meteor showers were annual -- including the normally placid Leonids, which produced the big storm -- and that they were somehow related to comets." Be sure to scroll down the page for a summary of each of annual meteor showers from Quadrantids (early January) to the Geminids (mid-December.)

  • Meteor Showers Online4 stars

    In recognition of his extensive comet research, Gary Kronk has been honored by the International Astronomical Union with a minor planet named after him . His Meteor Showers Online site covers all the basics, with sections on How to Watch Meteors and a Meteor Shower Calendar. "The beauty of observing meteors is that it is the one branch of astronomy that requires virtually no equipment, or at least no expensive optical equipment. The optical equipment you will use are your eyes and the only other equipment you really need is a reclining chair."

  • All About Meteors5 stars

    With an image gallery, a video library, an article archive, and a meteor shower pronunciation guide with audio clips, is chock full of yummy meteor goodness. Although many of the articles refer to meteor showers of years past, there is still plenty to learn here. "Though often referred to as a shooting star, a meteor is not a star at all. Meteors are actually fallen debris from a comet."

  • StarDate Online: 2008 Meteor Showers and Viewing Tips5 stars

    The most popular meteor question online is, "When is the next meteor shower?" StarDate Online answers this question with a calendar of seven annual meteor showers that include the peak of the shower (for the lower forty-eight states) and the moon phase. Since bright moonlight makes meteor viewing difficult, your best viewing is going to be when the moon is new or crescent. The next meteor shower is the Eta Aquarids, shortly before dawn on May 5, 2008, and there will no moon to spoil your view.

  • UT Knoxville: Astronomy 161: Meteors and Meteor Showers4 stars

    These illustrated class notes from the introductory astronomy class University of Tennesee at Knoxville are a great resource. This meteor page defines important concepts, and covers a brief history of meteor science. Some of the linked resources are long gone, and the calendar is no longer current, but be sure to watch the short video clips. "The meteor shower is commonly named after the constellation in which this radiant is found, and occurs annually during a well-defined time period."

  • By April 21,2008

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

    Meteor Showers (True Books: Space)
    Meteor Showers (True Books: Space)
    by J. A. Kelley
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    Price: $1.91

    Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets
    Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets
    by Peter Jenniskens
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    Price: $93.79

    Meteor Showers: An Annotated Catalog (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series)
    Meteor Showers: An Annotated Catalog (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy...
    by Gary W. Kronk
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    Price: $29.03