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How to Watch the Southern Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower

Scattered Friday night through Saturday morning will be one of the special dates each year when skywatchers can catch a meteor shower as a multitude of flares potentially erupt in the dark.

Meteor showers occur when our planet moves around the Sun into a region of debris left behind by icy comets or rocky asteroids. These tiny particles burn up in the atmosphere, igniting the paths of light. The regularity of orbital mechanics means that any meteor shower occurs at roughly the same time each year.

The latest shower is the Southern Delta Aquariids, sometimes spelled Southern Delta Aquarids. They are active from 18 July and go until 21 August, but they will peak from 29 July to 30 July, or from Friday night to Saturday morning.

This shower is one of the best for viewers in the southern tropics, although it will also be less visible in the sky for people in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Moon will form a new crescent during the peak. Streaks from the shower should be seen for a week before or after peak evening. The Southern Delta Aquariids are predicted to produce 15 to 20 meteors per hour under dark skies, and are best seen around 3 p.m.

And more meteor showers are yet to come. Visit the Times’ list of expected major rainfall in 2022, or sync our curated collection of major location and astronomy events with your personal digital calendar.

Best practice is to go to the countryside and as far away from artificial light sources as possible. People in rural areas may have the luxury of simply stepping outside. But city dwellers also have options.

Many cities have an astronomical society that maintains a dedicated Dark Sky area. “I would suggest contacting them and finding out where they are,” said Robert Lunsford, secretary general of the International Meteor Organization.

Meteor showers are usually best viewed when the sky is darkest, after midnight but before sunrise. To see as many meteors as possible, wait 30 to 45 minutes after you arrive at your viewing point. This will allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then lie back and take in a great deal of the night sky. Clear nights, high altitude and when the moon is thin or absent are the best. Mr Lunsford suggested a good rule of thumb: “The more stars you can see, the more meteors you can see.”

Binoculars or binoculars are not necessary for meteor showers, and will really limit your view.

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