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During these last days of July, two meteor showers will light up the night sky.
The first, the Delta Aquariids meteor shower, is expected to peak around 6 a.m. ET (10 a.m. UTC) on Friday, according to EarthSky. Its radiant — the point from which meteor tracks appear to originate — rises mid-evening, peaks around 2 a.m. local time, and is low in the sky at dawn.
As the Earth revolves around the sun, it encounters the unbalanced orbit of a comet, whose icy surface leaves behind dust and rocks as they emerge from the sun’s heat. When these space rocks fall towards our atmosphere, “the resistance – or drag – of the air on the rock makes it extremely hot”, according to Nasa. “What we see is a ‘shooting star’. This light sequence is not actually rock, but rather hot air glowing as hot rock passes through the atmosphere.
“When Earth encounters multiple meteors at once, we call it a meteor shower.”
Likely to come from Comet 96P Machholz, the Southern Delta Aquariids meteor shower occurs anytime between July 12 and August 23 each year. It can be best seen by people in the southern hemisphere and southern latitudes of the northern hemisphere, according to NASA. However, a dark moonless sky is crucial, EarthSky pointed out. As it should be, the moon will only be 1% full during the peak.
Meteors, which tend to number 10 to 20 per hour and fly at 25 miles (41 kilometers) per secondare most visible between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. in all time zones when the faint constellation Aquarius the water-bearer — the radiant shower point — is highest in the sky, according to EarthSky. About 5% to 10% of Delta Aquariid meteors leave lingering trains, which are glowing ionized gas trails that remain for a second or two after the meteor passes.
If you go out about 30 minutes before showering, your eyes can adjust to the dark, according to Nasa. For those in the southern hemisphere, the radiant is closer to the ceiling; residents of the northern hemisphere should look to the southern part of the sky. You don’t need to use a telescope. For optimal viewing, find an area away from artificial lighting and lie flat on your back, observing as much of the sky as possible, NASA suggested.
After the Delta Aquariids peak will be the peak of the Alpha Capricornids meteor shower, which occurs Saturday and Sunday when the moon is only 5% full, according to the American Meteor Society.
This shower is not very strong and rarely emits more than five meteors per hour, according to the company. However, Alpha Capricornids tends to produce bright fireballs during its peak and can be seen equally well by people on either side of the equator.
There are more meteor showers than you can catch during the rest of 2022, according to EarthSky’s 2022 meteor shower guide:
- August 13: Perseids
- October 9: Draconids
- October 21: Orionids
- November 5: Southern Taurids
- November 12: Northern Taurids
- November 18: Leonids
- December 14: Geminids
- December 22: Ursids
You may also see five more full moons in 2022, according to Old Farmer’s Almanac:
- August 11: Sturgeon Moon
- September 10: Harvest Moon
- October 9: Hunter’s Moon
- November 8: Beaver Moon
- December 7: Cold Moon
And there will be another total lunar eclipse and partial solar eclipse in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The October 25 partial solar eclipse will be visible to people in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeast Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India, and western China. .
The November 8 total lunar eclipse can be seen in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America, and North America between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET. But for people in eastern North America, the moon will set around this time.
Wear appropriate eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as sunlight can damage the eye.