Okay I got you excited now so let me give you the deets…….
WHEN is it?
The Southern Delta Aquarids officially kick off their meteor shower session today. Unlike most meteor showers, the Delta Aquarids occur over a long drawn out July 12- August 24. Although they technically peak in late July, their peak is only 15-20 meteors per hour (which with respect to other meteor showers is on the lower scale).
The beauty of the Delta Aquarids is that you don’t have the pressure of having to catch them on a particular day. But if you happen to be out and about in the wee hours of the night or up early in the morning, it is something to look for! It might make that excruciating morning trip to work a little better or a fun game walking home from the bar. The exact times the meteor shower is above the horizon, however, is dependent on where you are.
WHERE should you look?
As its name suggests the Southern Delta Aquarids are in a constellation predominantly in the southern hemisphere. Aquarius, said constellation, can still be seen at lower latitudes in the northern hemisphere (I live in Florida and it is up for 6 hours so chances are you can spot it too). A good way to figure out when the constellation rises and sets is to check your phone using a star gazing up (like the one I suggested). Pick a star in the constellation and use the app to figure out when it rises and sets. If you use the app I do, make sure you turn on sky object trajectories and use that as a guide for where the star (or constellation) will be at what time. It should be on automatically but in case it is not, it is the button on the upper right of the settings (as shown on the right).
WHAT are the meteors made of?
The Southern Delta Aquarids actually have a debated ancestry. It used to be thought to be parts from the Marsden and Kracht comets. But more recently, comet 96P/Machholz has been the one attributed to causing the meteor showers. Comet 96P/Machholz is actually a short period comet that makes its way to the sun every five years.
If you are insisting on making a party about this, try July 28-29. Make sure you wait to see them after the moon sets, because the moon will be very bright these days and will overpower the fainter Delta Aquarids.
NEXT ON THE LINEUP: Get excited because the next meteor shower up is one of the most famous, The Perseids who have an impressive peak of about 100 meteors per hour on August 12-13.
Photo by Jimmy Westlake via NASA