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Our subscribers' grade-level estimate for this page: 3rd - 4th
Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
Site Index
Our Solar System Stars Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities
The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites
What's the Difference? Meteoroids
Space Debris
Meteors
Falling through the Atmosphere
Meteor Showers Meteorites
On Earth
Quiz

METEOR SHOWERS
A meteor shower is a phenomenon in which many meteors fall through the atmosphere in a relatively short time and in approximately parallel trajectories. A very intense meteor shower is called a meteor storm.

What Causes a Meteor Shower?
radiantMeteor showers (and meteor storms) occur when the Earth passes through a comet's orbit, and left-over comet debris (rocks, etc.) bombards the Earth. Each meteor shower occurs at a predictable time each year, as the Earth intersects that particular comet's orbit.

How are Meteor Showers Named?
Meteor showers are named for the constellation they seem to originate from (this is called their radiant, the point in the sky from which the shower seems to be coming from). Meteor showers have nothing to do with constellations or stars except for their names. For example, the Orionids meteor shower is named for the constellation Orion because the meteor shower seems to originate in the constellation Orion (although the meteors in this meteor shower are actually debris from Halley's comet and have nothing to do with the constellation Orion).

Meteor Shower Approximate Dates Date of Maximum Approximate Hourly Rate of Meteors Velocity
km/sec
Parent Comet
Quadrantids (visible by Boötes) Dec. 8-Jan. 7 Jan. 3 40-60 42 unknown
Lyrids Apr. 16-25 Apr. 22 10-15 48 Thatcher 18611
Eta Aquarids April 21-May 12 May 5-6 20-50 66 Halley (periodic)
Delta Aquarids July 14-Aug.18 July 28-29 20 41 unknown
Perseids July 23-Aug. 22 Aug. 12 50-75 60 Swift-Tuttle (periodic)
Orionids Oct. 15-29 Oct. 21-22 20-25 66 Halley (periodic)
Southern Taurids Sept 17-Nov. 27 Oct. 30- Nov. 7 10-15 x Encke (periodic)
Leonids Nov. 14-20 Nov. 17-18 15-80+++ 71 Tempel-Tuttle (periodic)
Geminids Dec. 6-19 Dec. 13-14 50-85 35 Asteroid #3200 Phaeton
Ursids Dec. 17-25 Dec. 22 15 34 Tuttle


Meteor Shower Web Link
Meteorite showers from NASA.




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