Man with dog looking at Perseids Meteor Shower at lake Bled
Getty Images, merc67

4 Meteor Showers You Don't Want to Miss in Fall and Winter 2023

Catch these five major meteor showers in the last half of 2023.

It's always a treat to look up into a dark night sky and catch a glimpse of a shooting star. But why settle for just one? A meteor shower is a fantastic time to see shooting stars—sometimes dozens or more per hour—streaking across the sky.

The coolest part: Astronomers can predict when these astral events will occur, so you can plan for your stargazing to be in an optimal viewing location like a Dark Sky Park, at the right place, right time.

What Is a Meteor Shower?

Shooting stars at the Geminid meteor shower on December 13, 2020

Geminids Meteor Shower | Getty Images, bjdlzx

When a meteoroid—a sort of space rock or speck of space dust—enters the planet's atmosphere and burns, the bright light it creates is seen as a meteor from Earth. They usually burn up entirely, but sometimes one of these rocks will enter the Earth's atmosphere and reach the surface, becoming renamed "meteorites" in the process.

Meteor showers occur in the solar system when comets leave a trail of debris through which the earth rotates. Because our planet revolves on a regular yearly cycle, the Earth often passes through these trails at the same times of the year. Meteor showers are generally named after the area in space where they appear to come from in the sky, such as a constellation or nearby star, according to NASA.

Major Meteor Showers in 2023

Perseids meteor shower, appeared during the middle of August every year.

Perseids Meteor Shower | Getty Images, Zhuoxiao Wang

But simply knowing when these showers will happen isn't enough to determine the best night(s) for optimal viewing. Nights with as little moonlight as possible typically provide the best show, so you want to aim for a peak night that's as many days away from the full moon as possible or time your viewing before moonrise.

Apps can also provide full meteor shower calendars, and Star Walk is a great one for detailed information, including the meteor shower peaks to get the best view, what direction in the sky to look, and how the moon may affect viewing.

Below, are the most impressive meteor showers in 2023.

Where to Watch Meteor Showers

Couple camping on lake docks at dusk, standing next to a tent enjoying beautiful starry night sky

Getty Images, vladans

For the chance to see the most meteors, head to the darkest place you can find that's free of the light pollution of city lights and during a dimmer moon phase.

Camping chairs offer a great way to watch, while some prefer to lay down a picnic-style blanket and lie down to gaze up. You can look from your backyard, campsite, or even in a public gathering like a star party to share the experience with others. Be sure to remain aware of your surroundings and any safety hazards in your area, such as wildlife.

To find the darkest skies possible, check out DarkSky (formerly the International Dark-Sky Association) which certifies places around the globe that meet darkness standards for optimal stargazing. The organization designates five different types of such places—sanctuaries, parks, reserves, communities, and urban night sky places—so you're sure to find one near you, many of which host public events during the bigger meteor showers.

The National Park Service hosts stargazing festivals throughout the year, and other organizations do as well, so check out if the state parks, local astronomy clubs, or science centers near you have meteor-shower watch parties planned.

READ MORE: Where, When, and How to See the Northern Lights