A great meteor shower will be making a spectacular appearance this week, and if you have a clear night sky, you might catch a glimpse.
The peak of the Delta Aquarids will occur around the end of the week as a stellar prediction of the larger Perseid shower we’re expecting in the first days of August. Should you find yourself in a location with dark skies, they can offer you an amazing backdrop for a direct view of the showers.
Whenever comets get too close to the sun, they melt in part and leave traces of dust and rocks behind them. Meteor showers that occur annually – like the Delta Aquarids – appear in our skies as a result of Earth’s passage through the debris caused by comets.
As big pieces of space rock hurdle through Earth’s atmosphere (sometimes at speeds higher than 90,000 miles per hour), they burn up and thus create the spectacular show we get to see.
Short history of the Delta Aquarids
It was back in 1870 that the Delta Aquarids were first observed, but it’s unclear which comet caused the original showers. According to previous research, they might have originated from a giant comet that split into two smaller comets as it grazed the sun: Marsden and Kracht.
More recently, astronomers named 96P/Machholz as another prime candidate; this short-period comet with a five-year orbit was discovered by amateur astronomer Donald Machholz in 1986.
Starting from July 12, the Delta Aquarids will be falling till the end of the month; the peak point will offer a stellar exhibit in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday and Friday night.
The best seats in the house have been ‘reserved’ by spectators in the southern hemisphere and the northern tropics, but the meteor shower will also be somewhat visible anywhere with enough darkness and clear skies.
During the shower’s peak, you will be able to see up to 20 meteors per hour – which doesn’t even come close to the Perseid shower, which is expected to fly at least 50 meteors per hour at the beginning of August.
If you live in a brightly lit city and you lack a good view of the shower, you can still catch the show thanks to the live streaming offered by the Slooh Community Observatory.
Image Source: Dan Space