Summertime is a great time for enjoying the night sky, when the longer days make us want to stay up later, and cooler evening air feels good on sun-warmed skin. And while July may not have any show-stopping meteor showers like August’s Perseids or December’s Geminids, you can still enjoy a few shooting stars in the next couple of weeks.
Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower
The evenings of July 28-29 mark the traditional peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. This southern hemisphere shower is visible around the world, with particularly good views in the tropics, from about July 12 to August 23 each year.
The shower usually puts out 15-20 meteors per hour. The radiant — or apparent source — of this shower is in the constellation Aquarius, near the star Delta Aquarii. Look low in the eastern sky.
Alpha Capricornids Meteor Shower
Most years, the infrequent and unpredictable Alpha Capricornids meteor shower, which lasts from July 3 to August 15, peaks around July 30th and 31st. Unlike most other annual showers, the Alpha Capricornids don’t have a well-defined peak. Maximum activity varies from year to year.
Though not a particularly prolific shower — viewers rarely observe more than five meteors per hour — the Alpha Capricornids can still be quite dramatic, with exceptionally bright, colorful fireballs. Astronomers expect this year to be a favorable for one for the shower.
The shower’s radiant is located in the constellation Capricornus, near Aquila and Aquarius, located in the southern sky.
Viewing For 2017
Delta Aquarids: On July 28-29, the Moon is in the waxing crescent phase, and will be setting early enough to have good viewing for the showers (2 am – 4 am, but you can step and and view as early as midnight to see these showers). Be sure to get someplace dark to enjoy!
Alpha Capricornids: While these are a “July” shower, this year, they are expected to peak August 1-2. The Moon will be at the waxing gibbous phase but will be setting around 1 am so you may be able to get some good viewing in.