Meteor Showers plugin

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This plugin displays meteor showers and a marker for each active and inactive radiant, showing real information about its activity.

Example (Leonids 1833):



Meteor shower

A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all of them disintegrate and never hit the Earth's surface. Intense or unusual meteor showers are known as meteor outbursts and meteor storms, which may produce greater than 1,000 meteors an hour.


The radiant or apparent radiant of a meteor shower is the point in the sky, from which (to a planetary observer) meteors appear to originate. The Perseids, for example, are meteors which appear to come from a point within the constellation of Perseus.

An observer might see such a meteor anywhere in the sky but the direction of motion, when traced back, will point to the radiant. A meteor that does not point back to the known radiant for a given shower is known as a sporadic and is not considered part of that shower.

Many showers have a radiant point that changes position during the interval when it appears. For example, the radiant point for the Delta Aurigids drifts by more than a degree per night.

Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR)

In astronomy, the Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of a meteor shower is the number of meteors a single observer would see in one hour under a clear, dark sky (limiting apparent magnitude of 6.5) if the radiant of the shower were at the zenith. The rate that can effectively be seen is nearly always lower and decreases the closer the radiant is to the horizon.

Population index

The population index indicates the magnitude distribution of the meteor showers. The values below 2.5 correspond to distributions where bright meteors are more frequent than average, while values above 3.0 mean that the share of faint meteors is larger than usual.


This plugin was created as project of ESA Summer of Code in Space 2013.


Info about meteor showers you can get here:

Enabling Meteor Showers plugin

  1. Open the configuration window (F2)
  2. Click on the plugins tab
  3. Select the Meteor Showers plugin on the list
  4. Enable the option "Load at startup"
  5. Restart Stellarium

Section [MeteorShowers] in config.ini file

You can edit config.ini file by yourself for changes of the settings for the Meteor Showers plugin - just make it carefully!

ID Type Version Description
Plugin Stellarium
last_update string 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Date and time of last update
update_frequency_hours int 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Frequency of updates, in hours
updates_enable bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Enable updates of the meteor showers catalog from Internet
url string 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ URL of the meteor showers catalog
flag_show_ms_button bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Enable showing button of the meteor showers on bottom bar
flag_show_radiants bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Enable displaying markers for the radiants of the meteor showers
flag_active_radiants bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Flag for displaying markers for the radiants of the active meteor showers only
enable_at_startup bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Enable displaying meteor showers at starup plugin
show_radiants_labels bool 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Flag for displaying labels near markers of the radiants of the meteor showers.
font_size int 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Font size for label of markers of the radiants of the meteor showers.
colorARG R,G,B 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Color for marker of active meteor showers with generic data
colorARR R,G,B 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Color for marker of active meteor showers with real data
colorIR R,G,B 1.0.0+ 0.13.0+ Color for marker of inactive meteor showers

Meteor Showers Catalog

You can modify the showers.json file manually using a text editor. If you are using Windows, it is strongly recommended to use an advanced text editor such as Notepad++ to avoid problems with end-of-line characters. (It will also color the JSON code and make it easier to read.)

Warning: Before editing your JSON file, make a backup copy. Leaving out the smallest detail (such as a comma or forgetting to close a curly bracket) will prevent Stellarium from starting.

The path to the directory which contains showers.json is something like:

  • C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Stellarium\modules\MeteorShowers (Windows Vista, Windows 7)
  • C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Stellarium\modules\MeteorShowers (Windows XP)
  • HomeDirectory/Library/Preferences/Stellarium/modules/MeteorShowers (Mac OS X)
  • ~/.stellarium/modules/MeteorShowers (Linux)

(Note that this is a hidden folder, so in order to find it you may need to change your computer's settings to display hidden files and folders.)

Catalog Format

To add a new meteor shower, you just need to:

  1. copy the code of some valid meteor shower
  2. paste it in the line 6 (right after the "showers": {) of the showers.json document
  3. replace the information according with your needs

Note commas and brackets, they are very important!

For example, below is a record for Northern Taurids:

			"designation": "Northern Taurids",
				"year": "generic",
				"zhr": 5,
				"start": "09.25",
				"finish": "11.25",
				"peak": "11.12"
				"year": "2014",
				"start": "10.20",
				"finish": "12.10"
				"year": "2013",
				"start": "10.20",
				"finish": "12.10"
				"year": "2012",
				"start": "10.20",
				"finish": "12.10"
				"year": "2011",
				"start": "10.20",
				"finish": "12.10"
			"speed": 29,
			"radiantAlpha": "58",
			"radiantDelta": "+22",
			"driftAlpha": "5",
			"driftDelta": "1",
				"color": "yellow",
				"intensity": 80
				"color": "white",
				"intensity": 20
			"parentObj": "Comet C/1917 F1 (Mellish)",
			"pidx": 2.3

Version history

Plug-in version Stellarium version Catalog version Significant changes
1.0.0 0.13.0 1 First public version of plugin
1.0.1 0.13.3 1 GUI and performance improvements
2.0.0 0.14.0 1 GUI and performance improvements

How you can help

We are welcome bug reports, feature requests and feedback through the usual channels (trackers, forums and so on).

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