The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is a modest annual shower which occurs over most of the latter part of July. The peak is over this weekend of July 25th – 27th. The end of the shower stretches into early August, and even overlaps the more famous Perseid shower which peaks in early August. The Delta Aquarids are considered a moderate shower due to a relatively low 10 to 20 meteors per hour and that these meteors are more faint than some of the more famous annual showers. They are noted however for leaving long luminous trails lasting several seconds. Meteor shower enthusiast recognize that any meteor shower can sometimes deliver surprisingly spectacular results.
The radiant, or apparent point of origin for the shower, is near the star Delta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius. The best time to view the shower is after mid-night until dawn. This year the moon will not interfere as it will be at or near a new moon. Always pick the darkest location you can find, away from metropolitan lights. The nice thing about meteors is that they do not require specialized optical aid. The naked eye and dark clear skies are all you need. Since the shower is in July, the late morning temps allow for comfortable viewing. If your viewing until dawn, check out the bright “morning star” in the East. That’s the planet Venus. Should you have a very low eastern horizon, you may be able to spot Mercury.
The origin of the Delta Aquarids is uncertain, but astronomers are picking Comet 96P Machholz as the most likely candidate. Meteor showers are often attributed to dust trails left by passing comets entering and vaporized by the Earth’s atmosphere.