Dear astronomers, it’s up to you to shine.
Each year, the second half of the summer season offers some of the best opportunities to see shooting stars and even fireballsas two successive meteor showers – the Delta Aquariids and the Perseids – converge to grace our skies.
Delta Aquariids fly approximately from July 18 to August 21, reaching a maximum rate of 20 meteors per hour during their nightly peak around 2 a.m. according to EarthSky.org. This meteor shower may be weaker than the Perseids that follow, favoring dark nights and viewing locations in the southern United States. late July and early August.
Peaking a few weeks after the Delta Aquariids, the beloved and well-known Perseid meteor shower lights up our skies until September 1st. While the Perseids peak is technically August 11-13, those dates coincide with a full moon this year, which means some of the shine from the meteor shower will be obscured by moonlight during those nights. .
For this reason, it is recommended that the best time to watch the Perseids is a few weeks before the actual peak: from late evening to dawn in early August, when the moon is absent or just a flash.
In years with perfect viewing conditions — namely, really dark, cloudless skies with no moon — Perseid watchers can report 90 or more meteors per hour.
While that may not be the case this year, you will undoubtedly still see some magic if you set aside time to gaze up at the skies on these final summer nights.
Learn more about all things night sky at Earthsky.org.