There are shooting stars galore this summer, and one shower could reward the intrepid star gazer with a slew of them.
The Delta Aquariids are under way already and are peaking at the end of the month. Anyone who wants a star to wish on need look no further than halfway between the horizon and the zenith, 45 degrees from the constellation of Aquarius, according to NASA.
The meteors are so named because they seem to radiate out of the constellation Aquarius, though they are not really coming from there.
The Southern Delta Aquariids stem from the 96P/Machholz Complex, a collection of eight meteor showers and two comet groups, as Earthsky.org explains.
Aquarius rises in mid-evening, reaches its height in the sky at about 2 a.m. and sinks toward the horizon by dawn, EarthSky says.
The Aquarids’ peak presages and converges with that of the Perseids, normally the summer’s most luminous shower, though the Perseids this year will be competing the light of a full moon, and thus be barely discernible.
The Delta Aquariids are under no such constraints, though, since their peak this weekend coincides with the new moon.
From mid-evening Friday through dawn on Saturday and into early Sunday morning, the Delta Aquariids will put on their annual show. That’s the highest number of meteors; the shower itself goes on till mid-August, with a steady, though faint, stream that has been under way since July 12 and will last through Aug. 23.
A few weeks from now they will mingle with the Perseids, which peak on Aug. 12 and 13. The Perseids come from the north, and the Delta Aquarids from the south, which is how one can tell the difference.
The Aquariid shower is just one of six relatively minor meteor showers that peak in summer between July 26 and Aug. 21, as Space.com noted, three in July and three in August. All of them, as a general rule, are best seen between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time. The farther south you are, the better.