When Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet, bits of that debris catch fire in our atmosphere and streak across the sky in a blazing 3,000-degree flash. On July 28 and 29, you can look up late at night and see this celestial show during the annual Delta Aquarids meteor shower.
The shower might not be quite as spectacular as the late-summer Perseid, but it will be worthwhile to stay up late tonight or tomorrow and gaze toward the sky.
How to find it? The meteorites will appear to radiate out of the star Delta Aquarii, in the constellation Aquarius (which takes the form of a guy pouring out a jug of water).
They’re best viewed after midnight, in a dark sky. According to Sky and Telescope, onlookers should expect to see around 15 to 20 meteors an hour. (During the Perseids, on August 12 and 13, there will be around 150 per hour.)
In the Northern Hemisphere, Delta Aquarii will rise in the southern sky and will be most easily visible late into the evening, around 2 or 3 am on both nights.
“The Delta Aquarid meteors may tend to appear a bit fainter than the Perseids and meteors seen in other major showers,” Sky and Telescope reports. “That makes a dark sky free of moonlight even more imperative for watching the annual Delta Aquarid shower.”
Luckily, the moon will be in a waning crescent during the shower, which should ensure dark enough skies if you’re far enough away from a city.
“Most of the world can see the Delta Aquarids,” NASA reported in 2014. “With clear, dark skies away from city lights, you can see meteors any time after full dark, with peak viewing times in the two hours before dawn (your local time).”
Though the show is peaking on the 28th and 29th, Earthsky reports a few Delta Aquarid meteors may be seen each night until late August.