Sky watchers have two meteor showers to spot the rest of July and much of August: the Delta Aquariids and the Perseids.
Although the Aquariids, a sparse shower of about 20 meteors per hour, are best seen in the Southern Hemisphere they can be spotted as far north as the mid-northern latitudes. Just watch for them after the moon sets around midnight this weekend until just before dawn, July 27-28. However, the moon, which is in its first quarter isn’t much of a factor.
The comet of origin is suspected to be 96P Machholz. Named for where they seem to come from, the radiant is the Aquarius Constellation in the southern sky.
Because the Aquariids continue through late August, you may see them when you watch for the Perseids that peak Aug. 11-13.
You will know which is which because the Perseids, a strong shower of up to 150 meteors per hour during its peak, come from the northern part of the sky where you find the Perseus Constellation. The comet of origin is 109P Swift-Tuttle.
If watching for the Aquariids this weekend, you may also see the Perseids because they are very bright and already started about July 17. However, they don’t peak until about the second week of August when the moon will also be bright.
Don’t bother calling NASA or the local police if you see a fireball during pre-dawn hours this weekend through Monday.
The Perseid meteors are already zooming across the sky but they peak after midnight from August 12 to 13.
This year, 2018, the meteors should be easily seen because the moon is in its new phase Aug. 11, and only a mere waxing crescent Aug. 12 and 13 (Sunday-Monday) which means its illumination is too low to interfere with shining meteors streaking overhead.
However, to best spot them, seek out areas away from street and commercial lights, oh, and be patient. There should be 60 to 70 meteors flying overhead per hour.
The Perseids are pieces from the Comet Swift-Tuttle that we can view when the earth passes through its path. Although it does so mid-summer from July 17 to Aug. 24, the densest pass-through is Aug. 12.
As to fireballs, NASA experts say the Perseids have more than other big meteor showers. For more NASA meteor information visit NASA Perseids.
Look up at night or just before dawn. You might see a meteorite zooming across the sky from now through mid August.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower which peaks July 28 is best viewed in the Southern Hemisphere but you might see a flash of light looking south. This week is fairly good to sky watch because there is a waxing crescent (just a sliver of a moon).
In addition, the Northern Hemisphere’s popular Perseid meteor shower that peaks Aug. 12/13 in 2017, has already started so you might catch one of its meteorites almost anywhere in the sky.
Unfortunately for Perseid watchers, following a full moon Aug. 7, there will be a waning gibbous moon with about 77 percent illumination Aug. 12 and 67 percent illumination Aug. 13, so the moonlight will make it harder to pick up the meteorites. The Perseids can still be seen though there are fewer of them during the next waxing moon Aug. 16-18.
The Delta Aquarids and Perseids
The Aquarids are named for Skat, a star whose Greek name is Delta Aquarid. The star is below the Great Square of Pegasus in the Piscis Austrinus constellation. For more Aquarids info and a meteor shower calendar click on Earth Sky.
The Perseids go all over the sky but radiate from the Perseus constellation. They are coming from the Swift-Tuttle comet. You see them when Earth crosses its orbit. Visit NASA and Meteors for NASA’s Perseid information