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Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower

Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower

There are so many things happening in the night sky in July, including the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower. These showers peak on July 28-29th. They are a modest meteor display producing 10 to 20 meteors per hour on average.  The meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Aquarius, near the star Delta Aquarii, hence the name “Aquarids.”

Constellation Aquarius

This annual shower occurs because the Earth passes through the stream of debris left behind by Comet 96P/Maccholz.

The Delta Aquarids are considered to be the “warm-up” to the beloved and more prolific Perseid meteor shower, which peaks two weeks later on the night of August 11-12.  If you catch sight of any swift, bright meteors streaking from out of the opposite part of the sky (north or northeast) you’re probably seeing a few early forerunners of the Perseid display.

On the evening of the 28th, the constellation Aquarius will be reaching its highest point in the southern sky by 1 a.m. local time.  From then, through the balance of the night, you’ll be able to count the shooting stars.

Find A Dark Sky . . .

The farther away you are from bright lights, and the more sky you can see, the more “shooting stars” you will see.  So, if you’re trying to watch from a city street corner, surrounded by tall buildings, you’re not going to have good luck.  Try to get to as dark an observing site as you can.

Break out a lawn chair or sleeping bag and keep your eyes moving around on the region directly overhead and toward the southern part of the sky.  These meteors appear as moderately swift streaks of light.

What’s In Store For 2020?

This year will be an excellent time to watch for them as this shower will peak during the overnight hours of July 28-29; the night after a first quarter Moon. The Moon sets shortly after 1 a.m. local daylight time, just as the constellation Aquarius is at its highest in the southern sky. Despite the fact that the famous Perseid meteors are beginning to become active, a sizable fraction of meteors actually seen will belong to the Delta Aquarids. A few can be seen each hour on several mornings around the 28th, with lesser numbers up to two weeks before and after.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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