How many meteor showers per year are visible from Earth?

And the answer: 30.
Photo credit: Navicore.

There are approximately 30 meteor showers each year that are visible on Earth. Certain meteor showers are centuries old. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August. It was first observed about 2000 years ago and chronicled in the Chinese annals.    

Whether you glance up just in time to wish upon a shooting star, or celebrate a meteor’s passing each year with a telescope in hand, meteor showers have been annual occurrences in the night sky for thousands of years. The “shower” effect is the result of the Earth passing through a trail of debris left behind by a comet or asteroid. Like Earth, and the other planets in our solar system, all major comets are trapped in the gravity of the sun, and will eventually complete an entire rotation. As a result, we can expect annual meteor showers that have been gracing our skies for centuries.

The famous Perseid meteor shower, visible in 2022 from July 17–August 24,  is the result of a comet called 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This comet was last spotted in our skies back in 1992, and won’t be seen again until 2126. Yet, even though it’s not coming back this way any time soon, it is still responsible for the fiery meteor showers that take place each year. The dust that meteors emit gradually spreads into a dusty trail, and each year the Earth passes through this dust. When the rocks collide with our atmosphere, they disintegrate to form a stunning, natural fireworks show.

Another popular meteor shower is the Leonid meteor shower, which occurs each year in mid-November. Deriving from the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle comet, the shower’s 1966 occurrence included a dazzling display with thousands of meteors visible per minute. Observers highly anticipate the event each year, hoping for another spectacular show emanating from the direction of the constellation Leo.

Learn more about other popular meteor showers and when to see them here.

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