Spectacular Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower To Peak In UK Tonight
The Delta Aquarids meteor shower will be visible to stargazers in the UK with the naked eye as it reaches its peak later tonight.
While soaring across the sky from July 12 to August 23, the shower will be at its most visible tonight, July 29. While it’ll be most spectacular to those in the southern hemisphere, us Brits and others in mid-latitudes in the north can still get a good view of the Delta Aquarids.
You don’t even need any telescopes or binoculars to take part: just pitch a nice spot with a clear view of the dark night sky, lie down or sit in a lawn chair, and look up. Eventually, your eyes will adjust to the dark – but make sure you don’t go on your phone or look at any sources of light, as that’ll make it more difficult to see the asteroids.
According to Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG), ‘the radiant of the shower lies inside the constellation of Aquarius near the bright star Delta Aquarii’, hence its name.
Advising people to start their ‘meteor watch’ at 2am ‘to increase your chances’, RMG adds:
Your naked eye is the best instrument to use to see meteors – don’t use binoculars or a telescope as these have narrow fields of view. Once you’ve located Delta Aquarii on the sky, look away from the radiant point – if you look in the direction of the radiant you will only see short meteors.
Meteors will appear longer the further away from the radiant you look, so aim your gaze about 45 degrees away from Delta Aquarii.
The radiant will reportedly reach its highest point at around 3.30am tonight (yes, that’s technically tomorrow, but let’s not be pedants). The Delta Aquarids shower is actually an annual event, taking place every July. However, the source of the meteors is still somewhat of a mystery.
The EarthSky website theorises: ‘It was once thought to have originated from the breakup of what are now the Marsden and Kracht sun-grazing comets. More recently, the Comet 96P Machholz has loomed as the primary candidate for being the Delta Aquarids’ parent body.’
The website adds: ‘Every year the Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colourful streaks in the sky.’
If you’re lucky, you’ll see up to 20 meteors per hour. So, get your naps in today – it’s going to be a late one.
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CreditsRoyal Museums Greenwich and 1 other
Royal Museums Greenwich