Stargazers get multiple chances each year to see meteor showers — celestial shows in which an unusual number of shooting stars streak across the night sky. Here is a list of when to watch for the annual spectacles.
Visible each year in early January, this meteor shower appears to originate within the constellation Bootes. The meteors are often bright blue, and peak at an hourly rate of about 40.
This shower begins every year in mid-April. The Lyrids can sometimes produce fireballs with smoky trails that can linger for a few minutes. They appear to come from the star Vega, in the Lyra constellation.
Debris left behind from the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet, which passes through the inner solar system every 130 years, is responsible for the Perseid meteor showers. The event begins in mid-July, but peaks in mid-August.
This meteor shower, which peaks around Oct. 7 and 8, is unusual in that it is best viewed right after sunset, rather than before sunrise. Normally, it's more of a drizzle than a shower, but some years "outbursts" of hundreds of meteors per hour can appear.
Known to produce fireballs, these meteor showers will peak in late October with a maximum hourly rate of about 20. The yellow and green meteors are fast-moving and come from fragments left behind by Halley's comet.
The Leonids are visible every year around mid-November when Earth passes through the debris field left by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Leonids hit the Earth's atmosphere at 70 kilometres per second, or 255,600 km/h. That's about 133 times faster than an F-18 fighter jet can fly at top speed.
The Geminids are known for their multi-coloured streaks and moderate speeds — they travel at half the speed of the Leonids — making them easy to spot. The shower peaks in mid-December, with an average maximum rate of 50 meteors an hour.