The southern Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids Peak Tonight
Many have already seen some of the precursors of tonight’s show. There have been few fireballs or earth-grazers this week. The rates for the showers right now are about one meteor per hour. Just go out and look up after midnight (or even dark) and you will see an occasional meteor. All summer long.
The winter is the best time to view meteor showers, but it is always so cold. These summer showers are much more comfortable. Especially if you go out on the beach to watch. In the winter the sky is clearer from lack of the summer haze, but tonight should be good viewing for our area.
The southern Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids are the first shower we have seen since the Eta Aquarids in early May. Tonight after midnight into the dawn hours we should see a peak of twenty to twenty-five meteors per hour.
The South delta Aquariids, active around July 21st reach maximum activity on July 30th. The radiant lies in the blank space between the constellations of Capricornus and Aquarius. These are more faint meteors and will appear like medium fast bright thin streaks.
The Alpha Capricornid’s produces the fireballs and they increase as we get closer to the peak period. The radiant lies east in Sagittarius, just north of the double star alpha Capricorni. A few have been seen already.
An Earth-grazing fireball, or Earth-grazer is just that a fire ball. This is a meteor that enters the atmosphere and then leaves it again, with a new orbit. These pass across the atmosphere and don’t hit earth. It is almost as if they bounce off the atmosphere. They do let off fragments that become meteorites. If an Earth-grazer explodes in the atmosphere they are known as earth-grazing meteor processions. That is when they break up into pieces and burn bright across the skies in what looks like several meteors in a row or group. The different bright colors are chemicals burning off. There are some famous observations of earth-grazers.
There are a few star apps that will show you where all of these meteor showers radiate. They all have the peaks’s radiant marked. The radiant on the app will have streaks emitting from it to mark the area. After you figure that location out put the phone down and don’t look at it again. Let your eyes get adjusted and enjoy.
The next show is the Perseids. They will peak on August 13 this year. Unfortunately that is two days before the full moon. Star gazers will not see as many if the sky were moonless. The Perseids is still a great show.