Twin meteor showers will peak tonight — but viewing may be tricky

Twin meteor showers will peak tonight — but viewing may be tricky

Two meteor showers will grace the night skies this week – though the moon may make observing them nearly impossible. 

The Southern Delta Aquariids and the lesser Alpha Capricornids are set to peak on Wednesday, 

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According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), the Alpha Capricornids – named for the constellation Capricorn – are active from July 3 through Aug. 15. The shower rarely produces in excess of five shower members per hour. 

“What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period. This shower is seen equally well on either side of the equator,” the organization noted. 

Comparatively, the Southern Delta Aquariids – suspected to be sourced from Comet 96P Machholz – are best viewed in the Southern Hemisphere and southern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

According to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the shower is active from July 12 through August 23 and produces approximately 20 faint meteors per hour. 

While interested parties can best view the Delta Aquariids – named for the constellation Aquarius – during the shower’s peak, the moon’s presence obscures the meteors from sight. 

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On Wednesday night, the AMS reports that the moon will be 74% full and clouds and wildfire smoke could also hinder viewing efforts.

While NASA says the best chance to view the Delta Aquariids on Wednesday will be to direct one’s gaze halfway between the horizon and the zenith and 45 degrees from the constellation Aquarius, interested parties can also catch the Delta Aquariids in August during the highly anticipated Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids are active from July 17 through Aug. 24, producing up to 100 meteors per hour.

Several Perseid meteors dash across the sky above Italy's Castel Santa Maria in this photo by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project taken during the peak on Aug. 12-13, 2018.

Several Perseid meteors dash across the sky above Italy’s Castel Santa Maria in this photo by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project taken during the peak on Aug. 12-13, 2018. (Gianluca Masi/<a href=”http://www.virtualtelescope.eu” target=”_blank”>Virtual Telescope Project</a>)

Meteors are space rocks that come from leftover comets particles and broken asteroids.

Every year, the Earth passes through comet debris trails, allowing bits to collide with the planet’s atmosphere, burn up and streak through the sky.

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In a meteor shower, meteors are moving toward Earth from the same angle, though moving from different locations.

Scientists estimate that around 48.5 tons of meteoritic material fall on the Earth each day.