Meteor Showers in 2024 - A Complete Guide to Shooting Stars

2023 was a great year for meteor showers, as both the Perseids and the Geminids were at maximum while the Moon was new, or a waxing crescent. That gave astronomers the dark skies they needed to see even the faintest of the shooting stars.

Unfortunately, 2024 won’t be so kind, as both of these major showers will be impacted by moonlight. But what is a meteor shower? And which ones are most likely to put on a good show?

What is a Meteor Shower?

Despite what you might think, space is not empty! It’s filled with particles of gas and dust, and as the Earth orbits the Sun, it impacts these particles. A shooting star is really nothing more than a tiny fragment of rock that enters the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed (about 30 miles per second, on average) and burns up.

In fact, it might surprise you to learn that meteors are typically no larger than an apple seed!

A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through a cloud of dust as it moves along its orbit. These clouds of dust almost always originate from comets that regularly orbit the Sun. As the comet moves through space, it leaves a trail of dust in its wake, and where the trail intersects the orbit of the Earth, there’s a higher concentration of dust and a greater number of meteors.

This is why meteor showers always occur at roughly the same time every year, with the cloud being renewed with each orbit the comet completes. One shower in particular, the Leonids, puts on a fine show every 33 years when its parent comet makes another pass by the Sun. (The last of these was in 1998, with the next expected around 2031.)

What You Need to Know About Meteors - Tips and Terms for Beginners

  • While there are some meteor showers that can be enjoyed throughout the night, most are best seen in the hours before dawn. That’s because the morning side of the Earth is the one that’s moving directly into the cloud of dust from which the meteors appear.
  • Although you can see shooting stars from almost anywhere, you want to try and find a safe, dark location, far from the lights of a town or city. Many meteors may be bright, but there are just as many that are too faint to be seen from the light-polluted skies of suburbia.
  • Regardless of where you are, give your eyes time to adapt to the dark. This can take anything up to about thirty minutes if you’re stepping out from a brightly lit interior, but when your eyes are properly adapted you’ll see more of the fainter meteors.
  • Once your eyes are properly dark-adapted, you’ll want to keep them that way. Looking at any bright light can instantly ruin your night vision, so make sure to get yourself a red flashlight. Red light doesn’t affect your eyes the way white light does, and as long as the flashlight isn’t too bright, you should be able to avoid dazzling yourself.
  • One of the best things about meteors is that you don’t need any equipment to observe them. In fact, almost any kind of equipment is a hindrance more than a help. Remember that meteors can appear almost anywhere, but if you use binoculars or a telescope, you’re limiting your view to just a small area of the sky. You’ll see more of the sky with just your eyes, so even if you’re looking in the wrong direction, you might still catch one or two with your peripheral vision.
  • Beware the Moon! It might look pretty, but when the Moon is between first and last quarter (anywhere from a half Moon in the evening sky, through full Moon to a half Moon in the morning sky) it can considerably brighten the sky. This has the effect of drowning out the fainter meteors. A crescent Moon isn’t typically a problem because it’s not so bright and is often only visible either before or after the darkest part of the night.
  • A shower’s radiant is the area of the sky from which the meteors appear. A shower is typically named after the constellation from which they seem to originate from (eg, the Leonids have their radiant in Leo) but occasionally a shower is named for the nearest bright star instead (eg, the Alpha Centaurids).
  • The zenith hourly rate (ZHR) is the number of meteors you could expect to see under ideal conditions. More specifically, this is the number you might see if the radiant were overhead and the skies were completely dark. In most cases, the radiant isn’t at its highest until the daylight hours and is rarely overhead. Consequently, the actual number of meteors you can expect to see will greatly depend upon the altitude of the radiant in the sky, the darkness of your location, the weather, and the phase of the Moon at the time.

The Top Three Meteor Showers For 2024

Since the Geminids (and, to a lesser extent, the Perseids) are marred by moonlight this year, the top three shower list looks a little different than usual.

  1. Quadrantids (January 4th)- While there’s a last quarter Moon on the day of maximum, this shouldn’t present too much of a problem for these bright meteors.
  2. Perseids (August 12th) - A quarter Moon may be a problem for those wishing to spot a shooting star in the evening, but if you’re out during the pre-dawn hours you’ll have better luck.
  3. June Bootids (June 27th) - Although it’s not the most prolific shower, the June Bootids meteors are usually slow and bright and appear from a radiant that’s high in the sky.


The Quadrantids typically have a short maximum of around 6 hours, so timing can be important. Fortunately, this year the maximum benefits observers in the western hemisphere, with the shower’s maximum predicted for 4 A.M. ET (1 A.M. PT) on the morning of the 4th.

More specifically, observers on the West Coast will have the best chance of seeing some shooting stars. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the maximum occurs at 1 A.M., while the skies are still truly dark. Secondly, the last quarter Moon will still be low over the eastern horizon, and its light won’t drown out the fainter meteors.

Regardless of your location, 1 A.M. is most likely the best time to step outside. The radiant will be rising over the northeast, but looking toward the north and east will probably be the most rewarding.


  • Active: Dec 28th - Jan 12th
  • Maximum: Jan 4th 04:00 ET / Jan 4th 01:00 PT
  • Moon: Last Quarter
  • ZHR: 80
  • Parent Object: 2003 EH (Asteroid)
  • Radiant: 15:21h +49.5°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Medium


With no major showers occurring in February and March, these are pretty uneventful months for meteor observers. However, if you want to try your luck, there are a couple that might be worth your time.

The most active shower in February is the Alpha Centaurids. With a zenith hourly rate of just 6 meteors, it’s considered a minor shower, and with its radiant in the southern celestial hemisphere, you probably won’t see very many. However, the Moon is new at maximum, with your best bet being to go outside at around two hours before dawn. Keep your eyes peeled toward the southeast and southwest.

Alpha Centaurids

  • Active: Jan 31st - Feb 20th
  • Maximum: Feb 9th
  • Moon: New Moon
  • ZHR: 6
  • Parent Object: Unknown
  • Radiant: 14:04h -58.2°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Medium


March’s meteor shower is very similar to February’s. The Gamma Normids are also a minor shower with a zenith hourly rate of just six. Its radiant is also located in the southern hemisphere, but with the Moon a waxing crescent at maximum, it will set long before the shower reaches its peak.

Again, like the Alpha Centaurids of February, step outside two to three hours before sunrise and look toward the southeast and southwest. The meteors are reasonably bright and of medium speed, giving you a decent chance of spotting a shooting star or two.

Gamma Normids

  • Active: Feb 25th - Mar 28th
  • Maximum: Mar 14th
  • Moon: Waxing Crescent
  • ZHR: 6
  • Parent Object: Unknown
  • Radiant: 16:24h -51.0°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Medium


After the Quadrantids, the Lyrids are the next major shower to occur, but unfortunately, you’ll find the full Moon may put a dampener on these celestial fireworks. This year, the shower reaches its maximum in the early hours of the 22nd, with the radiant rising in the northeast at that time.

This would normally provide a great opportunity to spot some shooting stars, but once again, your chances will depend on which side of North America you reside. This time, West Coast observers are at a disadvantage, as the almost full Moon will be high over the southern horizon at the shower’s maximum. This will considerably brighten the sky and drown out the fainter shooting stars.

Those on the east coast will find it hanging lower over the southwestern horizon at maximum, thereby having less of an effect on the surrounding sky. Either way, try to keep your eyes open toward the north and east shortly after midnight, with meteors potentially appearing higher in the sky closer to dawn.


  • Active: Apr 14th - Apr 30th
  • Maximum: Apr 22nd 03:00 ET / Apr 22nd 00:00 PT
  • Moon: Full
  • ZHR: 18
  • Parent Object: C/1861 G1 (Comet Thatcher)
  • Radiant: 18:09h +33.4°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Medium


Another major shower, the Eta Aquariids have a zenith hourly rate of 50, and with the Moon a waning crescent, the shower won’t be adversely affected by its light. However, the Eta Aquariids have a few factors working against them.

For starters, the radiant is in Aquarius, an autumnal constellation that won’t rise until shortly before dawn. While this is true every year, 2024 brings an additional problem, as the shower is predicted to reach its maximum during daylight hours.

Given the situation, you can choose to either step outside a few hours before dawn on either the 5th or the 6th . At that time, the radiant will be low over the eastern horizon, so look towards the northeast and southeast. These meteors are bright but fast, so be vigilant!

Eta Aquariids

  • Active: Apr 19th - May 28th
  • Maximum: May 5th 17:00 ET / May 5th 14:00 PT
  • Moon: Waxing Crescent
  • ZHR: 50
  • Parent Object: 1P/Halley (Comet)
  • Radiant: 22:32h -00.8°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Fast


June is another month that’s relatively light in terms of meteor showers - but with the days at their longest, this is not necessarily a huge loss. However, if you want to try your luck, look out for the June Boötids, which is the shower most likely to produce a few shooting stars this month.

These meteors are slow and bright, but with a variable zenith hourly rate, you may see some - or you may see none. This year, the Moon is at last quarter when the shower peaks on June 27th, and with both the Moon rising and the radiant setting in the early hours of the morning, your best bet is probably to go outside at around midnight and keep your eyes looking high towards the west and north.

June Bootids

  • Active: Jun 2nd - Jul 2nd
  • Maximum: Jun 27th
  • Moon: Last Quarter
  • ZHR: Variable
  • Parent Object: 7P/Pons-Winnecke (Comet)
  • Radiant: 14:58h +48.0°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Slow


Unfortunately, July will most likely be something of a washout for meteor watchers. With a zenith hourly rate of 25, the Southern Delta Aquariids is the most active shower this month, but you’ll certainly need to be outside during the early hours to catch sight of any shooting stars.

For starters, Aquarius is an autumnal constellation and therefore won’t become prominent until after midnight. However, if you’re outside at around 3 A.M., you’ll find it reasonably high over the southern horizon. The Moon will be a waning crescent when the shower is at maximum and therefore won’t rise until shortly before dawn.

This should give you a couple of hours, which is just as well, as these shooting stars are known to be on the fainter side.

Southern Delta Aquariids

  • Active: Jul 12th - Aug 23rd
  • Maximum: Jul 31st
  • Moon: Waning Crescent
  • ZHR: 25
  • Parent Object: 96P/Machholz (Comet)
  • Radiant: 22:42h -16.4°
  • Brightness: Faint
  • Speed: Medium


Arguably the most famous meteor shower of them all, the Perseids aren’t at their best this year - but they’re not at their worst either! Two things count against them; firstly the maximum is predicted for daylight hours on the 12th. Secondly, with the Moon at first quarter, evening observers may find the sky a little too bright to spot every shooting star that streaks across the sky.

If you’re outside after midnight you should stand a decent chance, but for the best view, you’ll want to look toward the northeast and southeast at around 4 A.M. By that time, the radiant will be relatively high in the east and the sky will yet to brighten with the dawn.

Better yet, you’ll also be able to see a conjunction of Mars and Jupiter near the Hyades star cluster. Although the two planets aren’t quite at their closest (that happens on the 14th, with just a third of a degree between them) you’ll find the one-degree separation to be a pleasing sight regardless!


  • Active: Jul 17th - Aug 24th
  • Maximum: Aug 12th 12:00 ET / Aug 12th 09:00 PT
  • Moon: First Quarter
  • ZHR: 100
  • Parent Object: 109P/Swift-Tuttle (Comet)
  • Radiant: 03:13h +58.1°
  • Brightness: Medium
  • Speed: Medium


September, like July, brings another challenging shower. The zenith hourly rate of the September Epsilon Perseids is only five, and they’re known to be fast and only of medium brightness. The good news is that the Moon is a waxing crescent, and the shower is predicted to peak during hours of darkness for North America.

With this in mind, observers on the West Coast should head outside at around 11 P.M. on the 8th, while those on the east should be outside at around 2 A.M. on the 9th. East Coast observers will have the advantage, as the radiant will be higher in the sky. As the shower’s name implies, the radiant lies very close to Epsilon Persei, which will be rising in the northeast, so looking toward the east and north-northeast will likely give you your best chance.

September Epsilon Perseids

  • Active: Sep 5th - Sep 21st
  • Maximum: Sep 9th 02:00 ET / Sep 9th 23:00 PT
  • Moon: Waning Crescent
  • ZHR: 5
  • Parent Object: Unknown
  • Radiant: 03:15h +39.7°
  • Brightness: Medium
  • Speed: Fast


The Orionids are one of the better-known meteor showers, perhaps because they have a famous parent object: Halley’s Comet. Every 76 years, the comet returns to the inner solar system and renews the shower with fresh debris and dust. However, you’ll have to wait until 2061 - when the comet next returns - to see if that makes a difference to the shower itself.

Unfortunately, although this shower has a tendency to produce bright meteors, the Moon is a waning gibbous this year and will be in Taurus, close to the border with Orion and the radiant itself. You could try your luck in the mid to late evening of the 20th (while both the Moon and radiant are still below the horizon), or else you can take your chances with both the Moon and the radiant rising in the early hours.


  • Active: Oct 2nd - Nov 7th
  • Maximum: Oct 21st
  • Moon: Waning Gibbous
  • ZHR: 20
  • Parent Object: 1P/Halley (Comet)
  • Radiant: 06:24h +15.7°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Fast


The Leonids are another famous shower, but you shouldn’t have high hopes for them this year. With the Moon turning full on the 15th, you’ll find it’s still 97% illuminated and high over the southern horizon at around 1 A.M. That’s also when the Leonids’ radiant will be rising in the east.

With the Moon so close to full and with its northerly celestial latitude in Taurus, there’s simply no escaping it this year. However, the Leonids are bright, so there’s still a fighting chance of spotting a shooting star or two. Your best bet might be around 4 A.M. or 5 A.M. when the radiant is rising, and the Moon is setting.


  • Active: Nov 6th - Nov 30th
  • Maximum: Nov 18th
  • Moon: Waning Gibbous
  • ZHR: 10 - 15
  • Parent Object: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle (Comet)
  • Radiant: 10:15h +21.8°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Fast


Ordinarily, the Geminids are a highlight of any astronomical year, but in 2024 it’s cursed with the Moon turning full just a few days after the shower’s maximum. It’s a similar situation to the Leonids; just as the shower’s radiant is rising in the east (at around 8 P.M.), the almost full Moon will already be high over the horizon in Taurus.

Fortunately, the Geminids are bright, don’t move too quickly, and with a zenith hourly rate of 150, are prolific, to say the least. You should therefore still be able to spot a few on the evening of the 13th. Alternatively, rise and step outside at about three hours before dawn on the 14th, when the Moon is low in the west, and its light will not be so much of a hindrance.


  • Active: Dec 4th - Dec 20th
  • Maximum: Dec 13th 20:00 ET / Dec 13th 17:00 PT
  • Moon: Full
  • ZHR: 150
  • Parent Object: 3200 Phaethon (Asteroid)
  • Radiant: 07:33h +32.4°
  • Brightness: Bright
  • Speed: Medium

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