Categories: ActivitiesCamping

Your 2024 Meteor Shower and Camping Guide

Imagine relaxing under a canopy of stars and dark skies surrounded by the quiet solitude of nature when suddenly you see a meteor streak across the night sky. 

If you’re looking to go on a camping trip that coincides with a meteor shower this year, you’ll need to get away from bright city lights to witness the awe-inspiring splendor of otherworldly astronomical events. Depending on the time of year and your location, you can see some of the most notable meteor showers of 2024 on a well-planned camping adventure. 

What is a meteor shower?

When a meteoroid—or a small rocky body in space broken off from an asteroid or comet—enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up to produce a bright streak of light in the sky. This is a meteor, sometimes called a falling star or shooting star. A meteor shower is when several meteors radiate from the same point over a brief period of time. 

If meteors reach the Earth’s surface, they become meteorites.  

Ideal viewing conditions for a meteor shower

To get the best view of a meteor shower on your next camping trip, keep these key factors in mind:

  • Timing: Refer to a dark sky calendar to find the peak dates of a specific meteor shower. Each meteor shower typically lasts a night or two, so the optimal viewing window may be small. 
  • Location: Choose a campsite that is far away from city lights and other sources of light pollution. A dark skies map is an excellent resource. Set up somewhere with a wide, unobstructed view of the sky as well as minimal trees and no mountains blocking the horizon. 
  • Moon phase: Artificial light pollution isn’t the only thing that can affect viewing conditions; lunar phases do too. Try to watch meteor showers during a new moon or when the moon is below the horizon. The bright light from a full moon can wash out fainter meteors.
  • Weather: Overcast clouds or heavy fog can obstruct visibility. Clear skies are best for meteor shower viewing. You may also want to dress for the weather, packing warm clothing and blankets for cold night viewings.
  • Patience: While meteor showers can sometimes peak at up to 100 meteors an hour, their activity level can vary considerably. Give time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and relax while waiting to spot those beautiful streaks of light across the night sky. 
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Delta Aquariid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: July 29 to July 31
  • Average meteors per hour: 15 to 20

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower is named after the constellation Aquarius and are modest in quantity and brightness. Activity is somewhat steady from late July to early August, running into the Perseid meteor shower in August. 

The southern hemisphere and southern latitudes of the northern hemisphere will give you the best opportunities for sightings during pre-dawn hours. 

Perseid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: August 12 to August 13
  • Average meteors per hour: 50 to 100

Originating from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids’ radiant is the constellation Perseus. Active between July 17 and August 24, the shower peaks during mid-August with up to 100 falling stars per hour after midnight when the half-moon has set. With these high levels of activity during warmer summer nights, the Perseids are arguably the most popular meteor shower of the year among campers and stargazers. 

Draconid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: October 6 to October 10
  • Average meteors per hour: Around 10

Formerly referred to as the Giacobinids, the Draconids are the first of two major meteor showers in October. The meteors originate from comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and center around its radiant point in the constellation Draco.

With only up to 10 meteors per hour, the Draconid meteor shower is best viewed in the northern hemisphere just after sunset in the early evening. This is when it’s at its highest above the horizon with short-trailed meteors shooting straight downward. 

Photo by Michał Mancewicz on Unsplash

Orionid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: October 20 to October 22
  • Average meteors per hour: 15 to 20

The more impressive of the two October meteor showers, the Orionids can be seen in the night sky around the Orion constellation. Like the Eta Aquarids (in May), the Orionids originate from debris left by Halley’s Comet. 

While not as numerous as the Quadrantids or Perseids, the Orionid meteor shower is noteworthy for intense brightness and high speeds of up to 148,000 miles per hour. But with an almost full moon in late October 2024, viewing the Orionids this year may be more difficult. 

Taurid meteor showers

  • Peak dates: November 5 and November 12
  • Average meteors per hour: 5 to 10

The Taurid meteor shower consists of two separate streams, both near the constellation Taurus. Despite their names, both the North Taurids and South Taurids can be viewed from both the northern and southern hemispheres. Each shower produces about five meteors an hour, combining to form 10 meteors when their streams overlap. 

Peak viewing for the Southern and Northern Taurids this year will be in the pre-dawn hours of November 5 and November 12, respectively. 

Leonid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: November 16 to 18
  • Average meteors per hour: 10 to 15

Named for its radiant in the constellation Leo, the Leonid meteor shower claims the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle as its parent body. In most years, the Leonids typically produce up to 15 meteors per hour, but visibility in 2024 may be more challenging with a full moon on November 15. 

About every 33 years, the Leonids produce very large outbursts called meteor storms. The next meteor storm is predicted for 2033 or 2034, with up to 500 meteors per hour. 

Photo by Hipcamper Ryan And Bernadette Morgan

Geminid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: December 13 to December 14
  • Average meteors per hour: 75 to 120

With an hourly rate of up to 120 meteors during its peak, the Geminids are one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year. The Geminids consist of debris from the asteroid Phaethon.

The mid-December peak for the Geminid meteor shower aligns with a full moon, though, once again obscuring the chance to see dimmer meteors. For the best views, look toward the dark sky with the moon behind you sometime after midnight. 

Ursid meteor shower

  • Peak dates: December 21 to December 22
  • Average meteors per hour: 5 to 10

The last major event on the 2024 meteor shower calendar is the Ursids, which are also one of the sparsest showers with only up to 10 meteors per hour. The peak of the Ursid meteor shower aligns with the winter solstice on December 21. 

Along with the last quarter moon at over 50% illumination, Ursid meteor viewing may not be the best in 2024. Improve your chances by looking around the constellation Ursa Minor after sunset before the moon rises around midnight. 

More dark sky camping 

Michael Kwan is a freelance writer and content creator. Over his nearly two decades of experience, he has covered everything from consumer technology to travel and parenthood. A founding member of Five Dads Go Wild (#5DadsGoWild), Michael has written for POPSUGAR, Angi, Invest Surrey, Tourism Richmond, LoveToKnow Media, and British Columbia Mom. He has been featured by CBC News, Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project. Fueled by caffeine and wifi, Michael lives in Metro Vancouver with his wife and two children.

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