National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

What is a Meteor shower?


In a table of meteor showers, the names of many different meteor showers are listed. Among those, the ones which are relatively stable and easy to observe are the Perseid meteor shower in August, the Geminid meteor shower in December, and the Quadrantid meteor shower in January. These are often referred to as the 3 Major Meteor Showers. Even during these, the times when many meteors appear last for several hours at most. At other times you won’t be able to see as many meteors as you might expect. In general, considerable patience is needed for meteor observations.

In astronomical observations, we often observe objects far from the Earth, like stars or planets. Even the Moon is 380,000 km away. In contrast, meteors appear on the order of 100 km above the Earth’s surface. So we can say that meteor observations study the closest kind of physical celestial objects. But even with these short distance observations, we are able to infer information about comets, which have orbits that carry them far away from the Sun. For these reasons, we can say that meteor observations are interesting.

Text by: Kou Nagasawa
Translation by: Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)

Video data

Year Produced2016
CopyrightNational Astronomical Observatory of Japan


Related Link