ILLINOIS – One of the best meteor showers of the year – the Quadrantids – will often go by without notice because it is so cold outside during the summit after midnight and only the really sturdy bundle gets up to see it.
The short-lived shower, which takes place January 1-5, is well worth it, however. As an above-average meteor shower, the Quadrantids reliably produce around 40 shooting stars per hour at the summit from January 3rd to 4th.
Also, if you’re a fan of meteor showers, keep in mind that there won’t be any more until spring.
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Below is an overview of meteor showers, full moons and supermons, as well as other celestial events to add to your calendar for 2022. This guide was curated by NASA, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the American Meteor Society, and Sea and Sky.
Meteor shower peak data in 2022
Unless otherwise noted, meteor showers are best observed between midnight and sunrise, as far away from the city lights as possible. If you’re planning on meteor spotting trips in 2022, check out Illinois’ dark sky locations including:
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Here’s a look at the meteor showers in 2022:
Quadrantids, 3rd – 4th centuries January: This shower runs from January 1st to 5th and produces about 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It’s best seen after midnight and is produced by grains of dust left behind by an extinct comet called 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The thin crescent moon sets in the early evening of January 3rd, leaving a dark sky.
Lyrids, 22.-23. April: The Lyrids meteor shower, which runs April 16-23, is an average shower, with around 20 falling stars per hour at its peak. The moon will still be bright, and that can wash out weaker meteors – but the lyrids are known to create bright trails of dust that last several seconds. The lyrids are created by dust particles left by Comet C / 1861 G1 Thatcher.
Eta Aquariden, 6.-7. May: This above-average meteor shower takes place from April 19th to May 28th. The best place to see it is in the southern hemisphere, where it produces around 60 meteors an hour, but it’s a decent show in the northern hemisphere as well, and viewers in This Part of the World can expect around half as many. Comet Haley is the mother of this meteor shower that has been observed since ancient times.
Delta Aquarids, April 28-29 July: This shower runs from July 12th to August. 2 and produces around 20 meteors per hour at its peak. A new moon means dark skies, so visibility conditions should be excellent for this shower created by the debris from comets Marsden and Kracht.
Perseids, 12th-13th centuries August: The Perseids meteor shower, famous for its numerous fireballs, is considered one of the best of the year. The shower runs from July 17th to August. 24 and produces up to 60 shooting stars per hour at its peak. The shower, discovered in 1862, is generated by comet 109 / P Swift-Tuttle. A nearly full moon will cause vision problems, but the Perseids are so bright that sky watchers should still get a good show.
Draconids, October 7th: This is the only meteor shower of the year and is best seen in the early evening hours. A small meteor shower that takes place from October 6th to 10th and produces about 10 shooting stars per hour. The first quarter moon will wipe out all but the brightest meteors from this shower created by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner.
Orionids, 21.-22. October: Comet Haley is the mother of this meteor shower, which at its peak produces around 20 shooting stars per hour. The shower runs from October 2nd to November 2nd. 7. The thin crescent usually leaves a dark sky during the climax.
Taurids, 4th-5th centuries November: What makes this long-lasting meteor shower unique is that it is made up of two separate streams – the first caused by grain dust left by asteroid 2004 / TG10 and the second by dust particles left by comet 2P / Encke. It runs from September 7th to December. 10. An almost full moon on the summit makes it difficult to see.
Leonids, 17th-18th centuries November: The Leonids meteor shower runs November 6-30 and shows an average show of around 15 meteors per hour – except during cyclonic peaks, which occur roughly every 33 years when hundreds of meteors can be seen every hour. It last happened in 2001, which took us years from a similar show of these showers created by dust particles left by Comet 55P / Tempel-Tuttle, discovered in 1865.
Twins, 13-14th centuries December: Meteor experts say the Geminid meteor shower is hands down the best in the sky, producing 120 multicolored meteors on top. Produced from debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1982, it will run from December 7th to 17th. Moonlight will wash out some of the faintest meteors, but the Geminids are so bright and productive that they should still put on a good show.
Ursiden, 21.-22. December: This little meteor shower runs December 17th through 25th and provides about five or ten hours an hour. It is produced by grains of dust left behind by Comet 8P / Tuttle, discovered in 1790. An almost new moon means dark skies to see a good shooting show and the last one by 2022.
Equinoxes and solstices
Spring Equinox, March 20: Spring officially begins with the spring equinox at 10:33 a.m. Central, when the sun shines directly on the equator and the hours of sunshine and night time are almost the same around the world.
Summer solstice, June 20th: Summer officially starts at 10:32 p.m. Central. During the solstice, the earth reaches the point in its orbit where its north pole is maximally inclined – about 23.5 degrees – which results in the longest day – i.e. hours of sunshine – and the shortest night of the year.
Fall Equinox, September 23: Fall, or the fall equinox, heralds the arrival of autumn at 2:20 p.m., the moment the sun shines over the equator and the day and night hours are almost the same around the world.
Winter solstice, December 21: Winter officially comes at 3:48 p.m. in the middle, the moment the Earth’s south pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun. This is known as the “shortest day” and “longest night” of the year.
Total lunar eclipses
People who live in North America will be able to see at least one total lunar eclipse in 2022, and some people will be able to see two if weather permits.
Lunar eclipses only occur during a full moon, and when the sun, earth and moon are aligned and allow the moon to pass into the earth’s shadow. In a total lunar eclipse, the entire moon falls into the darkest part of the earth’s shadow or umbra and turns it rusty or blood red. According to NASA, “the more dust or clouds in the earth’s atmosphere during the solar eclipse, the redder the moon appears.”
The two total lunar eclipses in 2022 are:
Full moons and super moons
By most definitions, there will be three super moons in 2022 – times when the moon appears larger and brighter than normal.
The term supermoon does not come from astronomy. Instead, the astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term in 1979 and defined a super moon as a new or full moon, which occurs when it is closest to Earth in a particular orbit.
“Interestingly, no one paid much attention to Nolle’s definition until the full moon reached an exceptionally narrow perigee on March 19, 2011, and approached its closest possible approach to Earth than 126 miles,” wrote Joe Rao for Space. com.
Until Nolle “branded” the super moon, astronomers called the full moon, which coincided with perigee, the “Perigee full moon,” and it passed without notice.
“Well,” continued Rao, “it seems that every time a full moon coincides with a perigee, it is referred to as a super moon.”
Early indigenous peoples named the moons to keep track of the seasons. Below are all of the full moons of 2022, including supermons, and the names Native American people gave them: