CARLSBAD, CA — The Delta Aquariid meteor shower has been underway all month, but will peak this Thursday, producing an estimated 10 and 20 meteors an hour.
The Delta Aquariids reliably produce meteors for a couple of days on either side of the peak date and will continue to fire through about Aug. 23, intersecting with the Perseids, often regarded as the best meteor shower of the year — though the Geminid meteor shower in December is special in its own right.
The 2021 Delta Aquariids could be a disappointment, though, as harsh light from a waning gibbous moon will likely wash out a good number of the meteors, which are faint to begin with because the shower favors the Southern Hemisphere, according to Earthsky.org.
To see the Delta Aquariids, it’s best to head outside between midnight and dawn.
That bright moon will wane in the first week of August. The Perseid meteor shower, which runs July 17-Aug. 24, will be well underway by that point, and viewing conditions should be ideal for the Aug. 11-12 peak.
Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said meteor shower watching requires an investment in time and preparation. Some tips:
- Get as far away from city lights as possible.
- Give your eyes about 30-45 minutes to adapt to the darkness.
- Take in as much of the sky as possible; take along a reclining lawn chair or a blanket and lie flat on your back.
- It can be helpful to find the radiant point (for the Delta Aquariids, it’s the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer; for the Perseids, that’s the prominent constellation of Perseus). But avoid staring directly at it. The longer streaks are visible farther away from the radiant point.
Also, Cooke told Space.com, ditch the cell phone.
“The bright screen can throw a wrench in your efforts to adjust your night vision,” he said. “My suggestion to my friends who want to observe meteors is, leave your phone inside.”
By Patch editors Beth Dalbey and Bea Karnes