June 24, 2024

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower Will Be The Highlight Of This Week – What Stargazers Need To See

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower may not be spectacular but it is a favorite among stargazers.

For one thing, the shower doesn’t produce as many meteors as the others, and since they travel a little slower, they don’t seem to disappear across the night sky either. Then again, since the Delta Aquariids will be visible through August 21st, warm summer nights make for comfortable stargazing.

This year, the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is expected to peak late on July 29th and early on July 30th. If the conditions are favorable, you can expect about 20 meteors per hour, according to EarthSky.

Where Meteors Come From

Meteors – to NASA calls “Cosmic snowballs” of frozen gas, rock and dust are typically the size of a small town. They originate outside the orbit of the outermost planets, then follow an elliptical orbit around the Sun.

When a comet’s orbit brings it close to the Sun, the ice begins to change from a solid to a gas. This produces what is called a “coma,” or the cloudy cloud around the ice ball. The coma can be thousands of miles in diameter.

Then, radiation pressure from the Sun – or solar wind – “blows away” the expanding coma to create the long tail that gives comets their characteristic shape.

As comet ice melts, a trail of debris is also left behind. Then, every year, when the Earth passes through these debris tracks in its own orbit around the Sun, the debris particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, the particles disperse, creating streaks across the sky.

Aquariid Delta Meteor Shower

NASA scientists are not sure, but it is generally believed that the Delta Aquariid meteors are caused by debris left behind by a comet called 96P Machholz, discovered by Donald Machholz in 1986. Although the comet completes its orbit around the sun every 5.3 years, research seems to indicate that the debris caused by the Delta Machholz 96 P 2 6 shower left by Delta Comet Machholz I around the sun 96P. ,000 years ago, notes EarthSky.

Meteor showers, however, get their names from the meteor’s radiance – where they appear to appear in the night sky. In this case, the meteors seem to come from the constellation Aquarius. The third brightest star of that constellation is called Delta.

So, by combining the name of the constellation and the name of that star, the result is “Delta Aquariids,” NASA explains.

How to Watch The Meteor Shower

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower will be easy to watch, like any other meteor shower.

First, go outside and lie down on your back or recline in a chair. Then, look up at the night sky. After about 30 minutes, your eyes will adjust to the dark and you will begin to see meteors.

It should be noted, however, that the Delta Aquariids are generally not as bright as some other meteor showers.

With that in mind, to increase your chances of seeing the meteor shower, you’ll want to be somewhere really dark – far away from city lights – so you can see the night sky more clearly. You can use this Map of dark places to find the best spots for stargazing.

The best time to see the peak of the Meteor shower is early in the morning rather than when the Moon is almost completely high and bright in the sky. Specifically, the best time is 1:45 am on July 30, according to Space.com.

Finally, since the Delta Aquariids will continue through August 21st, you’ll have plenty of other chances to look for meteors during early Moon-free mornings. Keep in mind that you won’t see as many meteors after the peak of the shower.

Be sure to also read our Stargazing content, including:

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