July 28, 29 – Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower

The southern delta aquarids are one of the most predictable meteor shows. They always occur from mid July to mid August with the peak f the shower occurring on July 28 and 29. The contents of this meteor shower originates from the Kreutzt and Marsden sun-grazing comets. The sun-grazing comets are a group of comets that pass very close to the sun, sometimes coming to within a few thousand kilometers of the sun, giving the appearance that they are “grazing” the sun’s surface. These meteors are observed in the debris field left behind by the comet as the planet passes.

Why The Name Delta Aquarids?
The meteor is named after the southern delta aquarids because their radiant lies in the constellation Aquarius. This constellation lies near one of the brightest stars, known as the Delta Aquarii. There are two delta Aquarids, the northern and the southern, but the former is less intense compared to the latter. During it’s peak, the southern delta Aquarids meteor shower produces 15 to 20 meteors per hour. These meteors move fairly quickly, traveling at a speed of approximately 41 kilometers per hour. When they enter the earth’s atmosphere, they rapidly burn up and are what we see as “shooting stars”.

How It Was Discovered
The person who is credited for discovering these meteor showers was G.L. Tupman in 1871. During his expedition to the Mediterranean Sea, he successfully plotted 65 meteors from July 27 through August 6. After his initial discovery, more studies on meteor showers were to follow with the focus of shedding light on this particular meteor. The first of these major studies was published in 1934 and used data collected by the New Zealand astronomical society between 1926 to 1934.

How To Get The Best View
The number of meteors that you will see all depends on the condition of the sky and how high the radiant will be above the horizon. The best time to view the meteors is starting at midnight when the gibbous moon has set. The best setting will be away from the glare of any form of artificial lights, such as city light.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible, wear warm clothing and make sure to focus your attention on the sky in the east. Viewers in the southern hemisphere will have the best view when compared to watchers located in the northern hemisphere. This is due to the fact that the southern hemisphere has a higher radiant altitude and the sky will be more transparent because of winter.
The good news is that the shower will be highly visible to the naked eye, so there is no need for special equipment to be able to enjoy the experience.

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