As America’s first Gold-tier dark sky reserve, Central Idaho is an excellent place for stargazing. From anywhere in the Wood River Valley, The Milky Way is clearly visible on a clear night, along with billions of stars twinkling in the dark sky. The sky becomes alight as meteor showers sprinkle down their “shooting stars”. Even more stars are visible when stargazing on the night of a new moon.
New Moon – Mar 24
New Moon – Apr 22
Lyrids – Peak night Apr 21-22, 2020 – Active from Apr 16 to Apr 30, 2020 – The Lyrids usually produce well for three nights centered on the maximum. These meteors usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs. These meteors are best seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant is high in the sky at dawn.
New Moon – May 22
New Moon – June 21
New Moon – July 20
Alpha Capricornids – Peak night Jul 29-30, 2020 – Active from Jul 17 to Aug 15, 2020 – The Alpha Capricornids have a “plateau-like” maximum centered around July 30. This shower is not very strong and rarely produces in excess of five shower members per hour. What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period.
Perseids – Peak night Aug 11-13, 2020 – Active from Jul 17 to Aug 24, 2020 – The Perseids are the most popular meteor shower as they peak on warm August nights as seen from the northern hemisphere. Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 shower members per hour at maximum.
New Moon – Aug 18
New Moon – Sep 17
New Moon – Oct 16
Orionids – Peak night Oct 20-21, 2020 – Active from Oct 2 to Nov 7, 2020 – The Orionids are a medium strength shower that sometimes reaches high strength activity. In a normal year the Orionids produce 20-25 shower members at maximum. In exceptional years the peak rates can be 50-75 per hour.
Northern Taurids – Peak night Nov 11-12, 2020 – Active from Oct 20 to Dec 10, 2020 – In late October and early November, there is sometimes a notable increase in the fireball activity. Much activity can be seen in the week leading to the peak nights.
New Moon – Nov 14
Leonids – Peak night Nov 16-17, 2020 – Active from Nov 6 to Nov 30, 2020 – Peaks of around 15 shower members per hour and perhaps an occasional weak outburst when the earth passes near a debris trail. The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains.
New Moon – Dec 14
Geminids – Peak night Dec 13-14, 2020 – Active from Dec 4 to Dec 17, 2020 – The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars. This is the one major shower that provides good activity prior to midnight. The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored. Due to their medium-slow velocity, persistent trains are not usually seen.
Ursids – Peak night Dec 21-22, 2020 – Active from Dec 17 to Dec 26, 2020 – The Ursids peak just before Christmas with 5-10 per hour up to as many as 25 per hour. This shower is seen strictly in the northern hemisphere and are best seen in the late morning hours around twilight.
Quadrantids – Peak night Jan 2-3, 2021 – Active from Dec 27, 2020 to Jan 10, 2021 – The Quadrantids have the potential to be the strongest shower of the year with average hourly rates one can expect under dark skies is 25, depending on weather. These meteors often produce bright fireballs.