For many of us the cosmic shows are the summer meteor showers – the Delta Aquarids start this week and the glorious Perseids start soon after – as expected some of the most important holidays. For us, there is nothing better than sitting outside on a warm summer's night, watching fireballs sweep across the sky.
Think of Delta Aquarids running from July 12th to August 12th. 23 and climax July 27-28, the dress rehearsal for the more reliable Perseids. This typically productive meteor shower runs from July 17 to August 8. 24, highlight overnight on August 12th – 13th
What that means – good! Darling! ̵
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The Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower, left by the comets Marsden and Kracht, is an average show that at its peak produces about 20 meteors per hour. There's some bad news – an almost full moon on the summit will wipe out the weakest of falling stars – but there's good news too: meteors from the slow-moving shower will still fly when the Perseids meteor shower starts, so you should be able to be to see meteors flying from opposite directions.
The Perseids, which are usually rich in fireballs that produce long, dramatic streaks in the sky, promise to wait this year. At the apex of the tip a thin sliver of crescent moon will be visible and meteors should fly at a speed of 60 to 100 hours.
In "breakout" years, like 2016, the intensity can reach 200 meteors per hour.
NASA meteorologist Bill Cooke is not expecting an outbreak this year, but he said the Perseids will still be the best meteor shower of 2018.
"This year, the moon will be new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will be set before the perseid show starts after midnight," Cooke told Space.com. "The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and this will probably make the Perseids the best shower of the year 2018 for people who want to go out and see it."
The historically bright Perseids are produced by the comet Swift -Tutle, discovered in 1862. The meteors fall between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia, but just look up and you should see them everywhere in the sky.
For both meteor showers, the best times for observation after midnight are the hours before dawn, but you may be able to see some as soon as it's dark. Dark skies away from light pollution provide the best visibility, but there are also some great places to see meteors in big cities.
Here are some tips for meteor observation from NASA:
- Take something comfortable to sit on or lie down on a deckchair or yoga mat so you can see most of the sky.
- Be patient. Under ideal conditions, it should be possible to see a meteor within half an hour or so.
- Leave the binoculars and the telescopes at home. They will rob you of the best prospects. Meteors are stunning without them, and the use of binoculars or telescopes will limit the amount of sky you can see and increase the chances that you will see nothing but dark skies.
- Avoid looking at your phone or anything else that produces light. If you need to see something, use a red light. Some flashlights have replaceable filters; If this is not the case, you can always paint the clear filter with red fingernail polish.
Photo: NASA / Bill Ingalls