Meteor Shower 2012: Mark Your Calendars for Future Shows

 @IBTScience
on January 04 2012 10:37 AM

The Quadrantid meteor shower, the first shower of 2012, peaked at 3 a.m. EST Wednesday morning giving viewers a night sky filled with streaks of light.

The show only lasted a few hours and included hundreds of meteors burning up the sky as they entered into the Earth's atmosphere.

However, Wednesday won't be the only chance sky gazers get to view meteor showers in 2012. Below is a schedule of dates of expected peak meteor showers from NASA:

April 21-22

The Lyrids meteor shower will be during the darkened skies of the new moon and will last from April 16-25, but will peak around April 21.

Named after the constellation where it is located, the shower will have 10-20 meteors per hour that typically have luminous dust trails that can last for seconds. This meteor shower should be particularly good since the new moon on April 21 will give the show a pitch black backdrop.

May 5-6

Too bad for the Eta Aquarids, meteors that originate from the Halley comet. The meteors will fly in at a paltry 10 per hour, but to top it off, the moon will be nearly full, washing out any good shows.

Star gazers in the Southern hemisphere have the best shot at viewing this shower that originates from the Aquarius constellation. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, you'll probably be out of luck.

July 28-29

Plan to skip the Delta Aquarids, too. NASA says it won't be a good year to view this meteor shower since a full moon will outshine the meteors located in the Aquarius constellation.

Aug. 12

The next biggest meteor shower for 2012 will come from the Perseids that will shower the skies with approximately 100 meteors per hour, peaking at 10-11 p.m. local time. The moon won't spoil the show as much as the Eta and Delta Aquarids, since the waning crescent won't arise until midnight. Star gazers will find this shower in the Perseus constellation.

Oct. 21

The Orionids enter the Earth's atmosphere so rapidly, that they can produce spectacular fireballs on occasion. The meteor shower produces on average a meteor every couple of minutes at its peak with colors of yellow and green. Definitely one to watch out for.

Nov. 17

The Leonids will be the definite shower to look out for; a show that sometimes produces meteor storms where thousands of meteors shoot across the sky per hour. The last time the Leonids produces a spectacular storm was in 2002 and since the cycles occur every 33 years, 2012 likely won't be a banner year, but it's worth a look.

The Leonids produce some of the best meteor showers known, according to NASA.

Dec. 13-14

The last and final expected meteor shower for 2012 will come from the Geminids, a shower that pelts the Earth's atmosphere with a meteor every 30 seconds on average.

The Geminids are also the most reliable of the meteor showers. Plus, sky watchers will have a perfect backdrop since the new moon coincides with the show. The show begins around 9-10 p.m. local time.

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