Observing meteor showers can be tough at the best of times, requiring late nights, dark skies and lots of patience, but the Southern delta-Aquarids meteor shower makes it even harder this year for shooting star enthusiasts. The peak of the shower coincides with a 9pm Moon rise, meaning that the dark sky conditions of the early morning hours are lit up by the tremendous reflective power of the Moon.
Take a virtual tour to see how the Southern delta-Aquarids Meteor Shower is generated with this terrific 3D interactive model.
When to look: It’s going to be difficult to see meteors through the bright moonlight, but if you’re still keen try from 2am, 29th July.
Which direction to look: North. The meteors will appear between the Moon and Jupiter which is the bright star-like object nearby.
Do I Need a Telescope to see a Meteor Shower?
You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see!
It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors will be quite faint so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns? Fingers crossed for a spectacular show!
What is a meteor shower?
Meteors are caused by debris entering Earth’s atmosphere. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand which burns up in the atmosphere and causes a bright streak of light to appear briefly in our night sky. The debris that causes a meteor can be travelling between 11 to 73 km/second.
A meteor shower is a time when you see lots of “shooting stars”. They are the result of Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or other object that has come into our Solar System and orbited around the Sun.
Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the “shooting stars” appear to be coming from. In the case of the Southern delta-Aquarid Meteor Shower, the meteors appear to come from the direction of the constellation of Aquarius. If you have a handy smart phone app that helps you identify objects in the night sky, search for Aquarius, and you’ll be looking in the right location.
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Become a Citizen Scientist and report meteor sightings! If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), WA’s Fireballs in the Sky team based at Curtin University would love to know! Download the Fireballs in the Sky App and keep your eyes peeled!