Meteor showers to watch out for this weekend and until August
- A full moon night coincides with the peak of the Perseids shower
- There are three meteor showers you can witness this weekend
- Plus two in August, before we are done for summer this year
Shooting star gazers Assemble!
It is that time of the year when you start planning your weekends around what's happening in the night sky and you might even have a whole trip planned for the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. But, you can begin looking at the skies this very weekend itself, Space.com has reported.
For those who might still be new to this, a meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the path of a comet and the debris left behind by it. As the bits of debris enter the Earth's atmosphere, they burn up and leave streaks of light in the night sky.
There are some meteor showers like the Perseid that occur every year and are a great opportunity to learn more about meteors in general and also plan your outdoorsy trips. Unfortunately, this year, though, the peak of the Perseid meteor, the nights of 12 and 13th August happens to be a Full Moon night, when the Earth's natural satellite will shine maximum light in the sky and dull the show that the debris will put up.
Interestingly, the New Moon, which can offer a dark canvas to see the showers in their full glory happens to be this weekend, July 30, 31st. So, if you are looking for some alternatives, here's a list to help you get started.
Delta Aquarids meteor shower
Caused by the dust and debris left by the comet 96P/ Machholz, the Delta Aquarids are already visible in the sky and will be seen through August 21. The peak of the shower is also this weekend when you could see up to 20 "shooting stars" every hour.
A radiant point is a place in the sky where the paths of meteors if extended backward, would intersect a particular constellation and appear to be the point where the shower emerges from. For the Delta Aquarids, the radiant point is the constellation of Aquarius.
Alpha Capricornids meteor shower
The Alpha Capricornids are relatively minor meteor showers that are likely to show just a few "shooting stars", but ones that move rather slowly. Visible until the 15th of August, the Capricornids are also peaking this weekend and for those seeking them from the northern hemisphere, will appear to come from the southern sky, Forbes reported.
The debris causing these showers is coming from the comet 169P/ NEAT, and the radiant point is the constellation of Capricorn.
Perseids meteor shower
The Perseids meteor shower is on display from July 7 to August 24 this year and since the peak night is not going to be a lot of fun, you can catch the best display on the New Moon night of this weekend.
The debris from the Perseid comes from the comet Swift-Tuttle that came close to the Sun in 1992 and will only be seen again another 100 years from now. The peak of the shower can have as many as 100 trails an hour. However, this weekend, the numbers will be far lesser.
The radiant point is the constellation of Perseus, while the trails will appear in the northwestern sky.
In case this weekend is simply off the charts, and there is Iota Aquarids that will peak on Aug 6th. The trails might just be about six an hour but when the Moon has set around midnight, they should be easy to spot against the dark sky around 2 a.m., Space.com said in its report.
The last of the showers for the summer though are happening between August 3-25, when the Kappa Cygnids will be on display. At its peak, the shower will only consist of three or four meteors but some can be brilliant fireballs. The meteor spotting, however, can only be done up to midnight after which moonlight will take over the sky.
Professor Gretchen Benedix is an astrogeologist and cosmic mineralogist who studies meteorites and figures the forming stages of the solar system.