How to spot two big meteor showers tonight

The heat of stargazing continues this week when not one but two meteor showers will peak, providing much-needed nighttime entertainment for those wishing to turn their necks skyward. Both are annual events, but they lack the rarity they make up for the spectacle.

The Delta Aquariids meteor shower is named because its meteorites originate near the Delta Aquarii Star, which is part of the constellation Aquarius. It actually originates from a comet called 96P / Machholz and from July 12 to August 23, and at its peak, which is this week, can produce 20 meteors per hour.

The Alpha Makrides meteor shower occurs between mid-July and mid-August, a result of dust from Comet 169P / NEAT. This year, it peaks between July 25 and 30, although there are three less impressive meteors per hour. But this is what the volume reduction makes it for fireballs.

That’s right, fireballs. You do not want to miss those people.

Meteor precipitation occurs when the Earth passes near the debris trails left by comets and asteroids are pulled away by the Sun’s gravitational bridge. The bright streaks we can see are fragments of that trail disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Both current meteor showers can increase brightness in areas where light pollution is not too bad, although Delta Aquariids are better seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

If the weather is uncomfortable or you just haven’t had a chance to stare once, another meteor shower, Perseid, is just a few weeks away.

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