How to view the Delta Aquarids & Perseids Meteor Showers
Have you noticed any falling stars recently? The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower started on July 12 and will run through August 23.
The peak viewing period is this weekend (July 29-30), with perhaps twenty meteors per hour. Although this is not a particularly well-known meteor shower, it is still worth our attention. We are near a full moon now, so its bright light will interfere with some of the more faint meteors.
Meteor showers are named according to their radiant, or the point from which they appear to originate. In this case, they appear to originate in the constellation Aquarius.
What is a meteor?
Meteors, of course, are not falling stars. They are produced by bits of comets passing through the earth’s atmosphere. Comets are mixtures of ice, rock, and dust a few miles in diameter. When they pass near the sun, the heat causes the comet to shed ice and particles. These mostly sand-sized pieces of ice and rock create a debris field in outer space.
When the earth passes through these debris fields, the pieces collide with the atmosphere and become glowing hot. Viewed from earth, they are “falling stars,” or more accurately: meteors.
So, you might want to make a point of observing the nighttime sky occasionally over the next few weeks. If the show is on, it might be worth finding a dark place and putting down a lawn chair and just do some sky watching for a while. It might even be a good time to bring a star chart and learn a new constellation or two.
Considering the weather, seasons, and phases of the moon, this could be the most easy and comfortable viewing of the year, so we really should take advantage of it!