GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted January 20th, 2022
5 Major Meteor Showers Coming to a Sky Near You
Happy Camper Blog
Watching a meteor shower light up the sky can be a truly magical experience for you and your family. And since many campgrounds are located in darker areas away from the distraction of city lights, camping is one of the best ways to enjoy these dazzling astronomical displays. Here’s a quick guide to five major meteor showers that will appear in 2022 and how to make the most of them.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at what meteors really are. According to NASA, a meteor is a space rock—or meteoroid—that enters Earth’s atmosphere. As it falls toward the Earth, the resistance makes it extremely hot, creating what’s often called a “shooting star.” What we’re really seeing, though, is not the rock itself but the trail of glowing hot air that the rock leaves behind as it zips through the atmosphere. Another interesting fact is that meteor showers are named for the constellation they appear to be coming from. So, for example, the Lyrid meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation Lyra.
Peak viewing: Before dawn on April 21 and 22
Estimated # of meteors per hour: 10-15 during peak hours, but surges can occur with up to 100 per hour
Fun fact: These meteors come from a comet discovered in 1861 that orbits the sun only once about every 415 years.
Peak viewing: Before dawn on August 11-12
Estimated # of meteors per hour: 50
Fun fact: This dazzling meteor shower, which comes from the constellation Perseus, even includes fireballs, which are explosions of light and color.
Peak viewing: Before dawn on October 20-21
Estimated # of meteors per hour: 15
Fun fact: These meteors appear to radiate from the “club” of the constellation Orion the Hunter.
Peak viewing: Before dawn on November 16-17
Estimated # of meteors per hour: 10
Fun fact: Every 33 years, the Leonids have a peak year where they can produce hundreds of meteors per hour, so mark your calendar for 2034! In 1966, the Leonids generated as many as thousands of meteors per minute over a 15-minute span!
Peak viewing: All night on December 13-14
Estimated # of meteors per hour: On a dark night, 50 or more meteors can be seen per hour.
Fun fact: These meteors are thought to originate from an asteroid instead of a comet.
NASA offers a few helpful tips for spotting these spectacular shooting stars: First, grab some blankets, a sleeping bag and a thermos of something warm to drink like hot chocolate. Then lie down and get comfortable. Let your eyes relax and try not to look at any particular spot. This will make it easier to notice any movement so you’ll be able to spot more meteors. Last of all, be patient! The quality of your viewing will depend on many factors such as the specific meteor shower, the conditions of the sky, the time of day and the phase of the moon. And remember, the dates of peak viewing are estimates. The meteors have the final say!
Where to Watch
The darker the sky, the better your chances will be to spot meteor showers. The International Dark-Sky Association has identified a list of International Dark Sky Communities (link to https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/) that are dedicated to preserving and protecting dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education. Once you find a dark sky area you’d like to visit, go to GoCampingAmerica.com to find a great campground nearby where you can get in some quality meteor-watching!