When Is Next Meteor Shower to Be Seen Over U.S.?

The popular Perseid meteor shower lit up night skies last week when it peaked between August 11 and August 12. For those who weren't able to catch it, the good news is that there will be more meteor showers to look out for later this year.

The Perseids are referred to by the American Meteor Society (AMS) as the most popular meteor shower of the year due to their high visibility and their peak during the warm summer nights in the Northern Hemisphere.

Technically the Perseid shower is ongoing, since it's active from July 14 until September 1 this year. However, not everyone will have had the chance to see the shower at its peak, when it should have been possible to see between 50 and 75 meteors an hour from a rural location, according to the AMS.

Showers may not have been visible for people in areas with cloud cover or heavy light pollution, for example. Plus, the Perseids this year coincided with a full moon, which is generally a hindrance to shower viewing since its light makes it harder to spot meteors.

Meteor shower
A file photo of meteors blazing across a starry sky. Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through a trail of comet or asteroid debris. Cylonphoto/Getty

However, anyone keen to see another shower can do so when the Orionids reach their peak in October.

The Orionid shower isn't usually as active as the Perseid shower, generally producing around 10 to 20 meteors an hour.

However, the Orionid shower has been known to put on particularly active displays in some years, such as in 2006 to 2009 when peak rates reached 50 to 75 per hour—which is on par with the Perseids.

The Orionid shower will be active between September 26 and November 22, but its peak will be between October 20 and October 21. At this time, the moon will only be around 21 percent full, the AMS states.

The Orionids are viewable in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the hours after midnight. According to NASA, it's helpful to find a place well away from city or street lights so that the skies are as dark as possible.

After finding a safe place to lie or sit down and look up, observers may want to have their feet facing southeast in the Northern Hemisphere and northeast in the Southern Hemisphere to take in as much sky as possible. It should take less than 30 minutes for the eyes to get adapted to the dark, and then it should be possible to spot meteors.

Meteor showers come from the leftover debris of comets and asteroids as they orbit the sun. Sometimes Earth passes through these dusty debris trails, allowing bits to burn up in our planet's atmosphere at such high speeds that they temporarily shine brightly enough for us to see them.

The Orionid meteor shower is caused by the comet 1P/Halley as Earth makes its annual pass through its debris trail.

After the Orionids, the next meteor shower will be the Southern Taurids, which peak on the night between November 4 and November 5. This shower isn't particularly active and the moon is expected to be 87 percent full, according to the AMS.