The Delta Aquarids will treat skywatchers to the first good meteor shower of the summer on Tuesday.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is set to peak around 9 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 28, offering stargazers the first good opportunity to catch a “shooting star” this summer. The meteor shower should be visible to all, but it will favor viewers in the Southern Hemisphere and the southern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
The Delta Aquarids are an annual meteor shower that typically peaks around late July. The meteors appear to originate from the star Delta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius, which is where the meteor shower gets its name. Unlike other meteor showers, the Delta Aquarids create unusually long tails produced by their angle of entry into the atmosphere.
On Tuesday, approximately 15-20 meteors per hour should be visible under a dark sky. Due to the presence of a waxing gibbous — an almost full moon — it may be difficult to spot meteors. However, the Delta Aquarids lack a sharp peak, meaning you can view the meteor shower with similar intensity from mid-July to early August.
“It’s still a bit of a mystery as to what causes the Delta Aquarids,” the Slooh Community Observatory said in a statement. “Some astronomers suspect the event happens when the Earth passes through a stream of debris left by the periodic Comet 96/P Macholtz. The comet was only discovered in 1986, though the meteor shower has been observed since at least the 1870s.”
The Slooh Community Observatory will be providing a live webcast of the meteor shower for those who are unable to view it due to weather or light pollution. The webcast begins at 9 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 28. [Read more: Light Pollution and NASA: Combating the “Dark Side” of Light]