Don’t miss seeing the Delta Aquariid meteor shower this year
Get ready to see shooting stars this summer! The Delta Aquariid meteor shower is active between July 12 and August 23, peaking on July 29 - 30. At its peak, it should be possible to view 20 bright streaks per hour.
What is the Delta Aquariid meteor shower?
The Delta Aquariids lie within the boundary of the Aquarius constellation, near one of the constellation's brightest stars, the Delta Aquarii. This is where they get their name. They are actually much easier to see in the southern hemisphere, but here in the northern hemisphere, you can also see them clearly during their peak time.
A meteor shower happens when the earth passes through the path of debris left over from a comet that has broken apart. The pieces of rock and dust come into contact with the earth’s atmosphere and in doing so, they ignite and form fiery streaks across the sky that can be seen at night, commonly called shooting stars.
The origin of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower has been disputed and is still undefined. Originally, the parent comet was thought to have been the Marsden and Kracht sungrazing comets. But more recent research shows that the parent comet is more likely to be the Comet/96P Machholtz, which is closely related to the aforementioned sungrazers.
How to view the summer meteor shower
Night owls and extreme early risers are likely to enjoy meteor shower viewings! Go someplace where there is little or no artificial light. In order to have a broad view of the night’s sky, it’s ideal to lie down. The best time to view the Delta Aquariid meteor shower, as long as the weather permits, is from 3.30 am.
During the peak on July 29-30, the zenithal hourly rate, or the amount of bright streaks you should be able to see per hour, is about 20. On either side of the peak time between July 12 and August 23, there will also be a good chance to see “shooting stars”, although it will be fewer than 20 per hour.
The peak of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower coincides with the peak of the Alpha Capricornids meteor shower.