The summer of stellar aviation continues this week, when not only meteoric culminates, but also two meteor showers, which provide much-needed night entertainment for those who are willing to pull their necks down. Both occur annually, but they manage to make up for what they lack in rarity.
The Delta Aquariids meteorological shower is so named because its meteors probably come from the star Delta Aquarii, which is part of the constellation Aquarius. It comes from a comet called 96P / Machholz and occurs from July 12 to August 23 and at its peak, which is this week, can produce 20 meteors per hour.
Alpha Capricornids meteor shower occurs from mid-July to mid-August due to dust from comet 169P / NEAT. This year peaks in the range of July 25-30, although on less impressive three visible meteors per hour. However, what is missing in quantity is exchanged in fireballs.
That’s right, fireballs. You won’t want to miss those.
Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes close to traces of debris left by comets and asteroids pulled away by the Sun’s gravitational pull. The bright streaks we see are pieces of this trace that is disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Both current meteor showers can be observed without magnification in areas where light pollution is not so bad, although it is better to see the Delta Aquarium from the southern hemisphere.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate or you just don’t have a chance to play the star, another meteor shower, Perseid, is only a few weeks away.
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