What is essentially a display of space dust and bits of debris bursting from a comet (or comets) in our orbital path, the Delta Aquariids meteor shower will fly close to the Sun shedding particles that hit our atmosphere, around 60 miles above Earth. The meteor will zoom across the skies during which it will vapourize into shooting stars, leaving a trail of blazing light behind.
If at all you miss the celestial show tonight, you have until mid-August to catch the Delta Aquariid as the long, rambling meteor shower is officially active from July 12 to August 23 each year. The first week of August offers an excellent premise of dark skies with the upcoming new moon on July 31 – August 1. There will be just the perfect setting of a gorgeous waning crescent in the predawn hours of late July.
Although, the Delta Aquariids shower will be best seen from the Southern Hemisphere, people living in the mid-northern latitudes can also catch a sight if the moon is out of the way. This shower is known to produce 10 to 20 meteors per hour at broad maximum. If you get lucky, you may also find a few Perseids in the scene as the shower overlaps with the famous Perseids meteor shower. Unfortunately, this year, the Perseids meteor shower is rising to its peak on bright moonlit sky on August 11, 12, and 13.
Just like most meteor showers, the best viewing hours to observe the Delta Aquariids are after midnight and before dawn for all times zones around the world.
Meteor showers happen when our planet crosses the orbital path of a comet. When a comet inches close to the Sun, it warms up and sheds and scatters bits and pieces into that comet’s orbital stream. This comet debris then slams into the Earth’s atmosphere at about 150,000 kilometers per hour, vapourize and blaze down as shooting stars.