If you enjoy stargazing, you need to make plans to stay up late on July 28, or wake up extra early on July 29.
While the Delta Aquariid meteor shower begins July 12 and will be visible through August 23, its peak is expected to be the pre-dawn hours on July 29. During those hours, if the sky is clear, you should be able to see about 20 meteors per hour — traveling at approximately 25 miles per second.
Why We See Meteor Showers
About the “size of a small town,” a comet is basically a giant “dirty snowball” made of frozen gasses with embedded rock and dust particles, NASA explains. They originate outside the orbit of the outermost planets then follow an elliptical orbit around the sun.
As comets orbit the sun, they leave what can be thought of as a debris trail behind. Every year, when Earth passes through these debris trails on its own orbit around the sun, the debris particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, the particles disintegrate, creating streaks across the sky.
The Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower
While NASA can’t say for sure, it’s generally believed that the Delta Aquariids are caused by debris left in the wake of a comet known as 96P Machholz, which completes its orbit around the sun every 6 years.
The meteors’ radiant — or where they appear to come from — is the constellation Aquarius. The third brightest star within this constellation is called Delta. When you combine the name of that star and the constellation, you get Delta Aquariids.
The good news for stargazers is that the meteors will be visible from July 12 through August 23. The best chance for seeing them, however, will be July 29, at around 2 a.m. local time, according to EarthSky.
How To Watch The Meteor Shower
Watching a meteor shower is simple. All you need to do is go outside and lie down on your back or recline in a chair. Then just look up at the night sky. After about 30 minutes, your eyes will adjust to the darkness, and you will begin to see meteors.
You’ll need to keep in mind though that, as a rule, the Delta Aquariids aren’t as bright as some other meteor showers.
Pro Tip: To really increase your chances of seeing the meteor shower, you’ll want to be somewhere really dark — away from city light — so you can see the night sky more clearly. You can use this map of dark places to find spots that are optimal for stargazing.
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