The various Centaurid meteor showers (Alpha, Beta, Theta) will begin reaching their peak over the next few nights. The night of February 8, 2015, was actually when the peak for the Alpha Centaurids was reached, but the peak for the Beta Centaurids and the Theta Centaurids is now nearly here.
It should be noted up front that these meteor showers are more or less only visible from the Southern Hemisphere — so those in the Northern Hemisphere are out of luck. There won’t be a major meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere again until the Lyrids in April. (For more information on that, see: Meteor Showers 2015: Perseids, Lyrids, Geminids, Leonids, Draconids, Orionids, Etc — Dates & Times).
While the various Centaurid meteor showers aren’t typically the most prolific ones, they do provide for those with a bit of patience. With the Alpha Centaurids you can expect a peak rate of about 3 meteors an hour; with the Beta Centaurids a peak rate of around 5-14 meteors an hour (rather variable); and with the Theta Centaurids a peak rate of around 4 meteors an hour.
As the names imply, the meteors in question will appear to be originating from near the constellation of the Centaur, Centaurus. Magnitude for the showers is somewhat variable — with the Alpha Centaurids averaging a magnitude of 2.45; and the Beta Centaurids averaging a magnitude of about 1.6.
Out of the three meteor showers (Alpha, Beta, & Theta), the Theta Centaurids are the northernmost — with the radiant just to the west of the star Lupus. The others are somewhat more southerly.
To keep tabs on the other celestial events of the year you can download this annual calendar of celestial events! (It’s a free PDF).
Image Credit: NASA