Are you one of the few astronomy enthusiasts who look forward to witnessing celestial events? If you are, then you must be filled with excitement and anticipation over having to see them at the right time and the right moment. They say that some celestial events can have something to do with the status of one’s mental health. Do they, really?
Meteor showers are among the most sought-after sky events that most people want to know about. Unfortunately, only very few countries are lucky enough to see full meteor showers. The rest of the world will have to watch these spectacles on television. Let’s focus on meteor showers for this article – what they are, why they are, and when they do appear for this year and the year to come.
What’s A Meteor Shower?
It’s a magnificent celestial phenomenon where several meteors are seen to originate and glow from a point in the evening sky known as the Radiant. The meteors are a result of a stream of cosmic remains or meteoroids coming into the Earth’s atmosphere at intensely fast velocities. There are more than 900 possible meteor showers in the list from the Meteor Data Center, and 100 of these are well-established.
Below are some meteor showers that are most commonly seen that present with the most activity. They are usually seen just before dawn, after midnight. Some showers that show peak activity during the first and last quarter of the moon phase are hard to observe.
Meteor Showers For 2019-2020
Lyrids (Next activity: April 16-28, 2019)
These are medium-strength showers that under normal circumstances produce sufficient rates for a maximum of three nights. Although they don’t have a lot of trains, they can create fireballs. They are best observed from the northern hemisphere, as the Radiant is high at dawn. They can also be seen in the southern hemisphere areas at a lower scale.
Eta Aquariids (Next activity: April 19-May 28, 2019)
Eta Aquariids, when observed from the southern tropics, are strong and steady. However, they only create minimum activity, about 10-30 per hour, when observed before dawn. Eta Aquariids persist for a week, and they are fast and persistent with minimal fireballs.
Alpha Capricornoids (Next activity: July 3-Aug 15, 2019)
Described as plateau-like with its maximum centered on July 20th, the Alpha Capricornoids are minimally strong and seldom produce more than five showers per hour. They do produce bright and beautiful fireballs when they are active and are seen on both sides of the equator.
Perseids (Next activity: July 17-Aug 26, 2019)
These showers are famous during the August evenings when they peak and are seen from the northern tropics. The Perseids are strongest on August 12 or 13, where they are seen showering at a range of 50 to 75 per hour. These showers originate from the comet 109P or the Swift Tuttle when its particles are released to the solar system. The term Perseids come from Perseus, the conspicuous constellation near its Radiant (origin).
Leonids (Next activity: Nov 6-30, 2019)
They are popular for creating meteor storms in 1833, 1966, 1999, and 2001. The Leonids are best observed when the comet 55P or the Tempel-Tuttle is near Perihelion, the sun’s closest approach. These are remaining debris from the comet. But the news is that the earth will not be seeing any dense clouds until 2099, so when the comet comes back in 2031 and 2064, no Perseids will be seen except when its activity peaks at more than 100 per hour.
Ursids (Next activity: December 17-26, 2019)
These meteor showers are frequently ignored because they peak only before the Christmas Season and are much less than the rest of the showers at 5 to 10 per hour in the late mornings. They can reach up to 25 during their maximum activity and sometimes show outbursts. Ursids are exclusively observed as a northern hemisphere celestial event.
Quadrantids (Next activity: December 27, 2019-January 10, 2020)
Quadrantids can become the strongest showers of the year but they appear relatively shorter in duration, about six hours, and they are observed during the poorest weather condition in early January. They can reach up to 25 showers per hour but are usually seen as the skies are dark. They do occasionally produce fireballs but are not very visible from the southern hemisphere.
What other celestial events do you find interesting? Let us know!