meteor shower

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

meteor shower

meteor shower, increase in the number of meteors observed in a particular part of the sky. The trails of the meteors of a meteor shower all appear to be traceable back to a single point in the sky, known as the radiant point, or radiant. A shower is named for the constellation in which its radiant is located, e.g., the Lyrids appear to come from a point in Lyra, the Perseids from Perseus, and the Orionids from Orion.

Meteor showers usually occur annually and with varying intensity. While the average counting rate of meteors for the entire sky is between 5 and 10 per hr, an observer may see twice this number in one part of the sky during a shower, depending on atmospheric conditions and the degree of darkness, and in the case of the Perseids, possibly more than 100 in an hour. The Leonids produce spectacular displays roughly every 33 years, as they did during the meteor storm of 1966 (with a peak of a thousand a minute) and the intense shower of 2001 (with a peak of several thousand an hour). The Taurids, though not intense in number of meteors, is noted for the spectacular fireballs it displays.

Most meteor showers are closely associated with comets. When a comet approaches the sun, a swarm of particles is shed along its orbit. If this orbit intersects that of the earth, a meteor shower will be observed. The shower will be particularly intense in those years when the original comet would have been observed. The Geminids are an exception; they are associated with the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The Andromedids are associated with Biela's comet, the Eta Aquarids and Orionids with Halley's comet, the Leonids with Comet Tempel-Tuttle, the Lyrids with Comet Thatcher, the Perseids with Comet Swift-Tuttle, and the Taurids with Comet Encke. Some of the better-known meteor showers and their approximate peak dates are: Lyrids, Apr. 21; Perseids, Aug. 12; Orionids, Oct. 20; Taurids, Nov. 4; Leonids, Nov. 16; Geminids, Dec. 13.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

meteor shower

The increase in observed rate of appearance of meteorsshower meteors – when the Earth passes through a meteoroid stream; a particular shower occurs at the same time each year. The increase in rate differs from stream to stream: it is a function of mass of the originating comet, age of stream, position of intersection point with respect to stream axis, and orbital elements (which can vary slowly with time). With many showers the rate varies from year to year because the meteoroids are not evenly distributed around the stream. The ratio between shower rate and sporadic-meteor rate is a function of the mass of the meteoroids being observed. This ratio can be as high as 10 for visual meteors, is about 1–2 for radio meteors, and is negligible for satellite-observed meteors. Shower meteors appear to emanate from a radiant, the shower being named after the constellation that contains the radiant. See Table 4, backmatter.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meteor Shower


a meteor stream of brief duration with a very large number of meteors, as many as 1,000 in 1 min. The following meteor showers have been observed in the last 200 years: the Andromedids (1872 and 1885), the Draconids (1933 and 1946), and the Leonids (1799, 1833, 1866, and 1966).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

meteor shower

[′mēd·ē·ər ‚shau̇·ər]
A number of meteors with approximately parallel trajectories.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Perseids meteor shower saw shooting stars soaring through the sky, as dust from the Swift-Tuttle comet entered our atmosphere.
In order to make the most out of the meteor shower despite the bright Moon, it would be best to view it from a very dark location with an unobstructed view of the sky.
Records of the shower date back 2,700 years which makes it one of the world's oldest known meteor showers.
MAY 6-7 - ETA AQUARIDS METEOR SHOWER The Eta Aquarids is an aboveaverage shower capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.
Speaking about the meteor shower viewing event held by DAG, Al Hariri said: "The expectations of the public were met.
ToA watch the meteor shower in person, go out before sunrise and look up.
Nasa recommends that those interested in viewing the Meteor Shower should head out around 10:30 p.m.
Mohammad Shawkat Odeh, director of the International Astronomy Centre in Abu Dhabi, said that while the west will be able to see the meteor shower on the night of December 13, the most suitable time in the Arab region will be on the nights of December 14-15.
The Geminids is different from other meteor showers: 'The Geminids meteors do not originate from a comet, they come from an asteroid (3200 Phaethon).
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the meteor shower can be seen over a period of about two days centered on the early morning hours of November 22.
Orionids is the second meteor shower created by Comet Halley, according to the website, timeanddate.