Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks soon!

An outburst of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image. Stargazers expect a similar outburst during next week’s Perseid meteor shower, which will be visible overnight on Aug. 11 and 12. Credits: NASA/JPL

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower will be at its peak this week, so now is a good time to start watching the skies!

Thursday and Friday, July 27th and 28th, will be when the shower is at its nominal peak, but the shower actually ranges from mid July through mid August. The best time to look for meteors will be overnight, near 2am (although you should be able to see some anytime between midnight and before dawn). There is no one direction you should be looking, just lay back and look straight up to see the shower. At its peak the Delta Aquariids can produce 10-20 meteors an hour.

The moon will be in its waning crescent phase this week, which means it shouldn’t pose much of a threat to viewing conditions. What might get in the way is our weather. Rain chances will be very low during the nights this week, but we’ll still have scattered clouds around. Your best bet at low cloud cover for good viewing conditions will be Tuesday night through Thursday night.

Where do the meteor showers come from? Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the orbital path of a comet. The meteors are debris left behind in the wake of a comet.

Interestingly, the origin of the Delta Aquariids shower is not know in certainty. The Comet 96P Machholz is a possible source for the Delta Aquariids.