A flurry of meteors will soon dash across the heavens, a celestial light show that will be followed up by an even more impressive astronomical event in the coming weeks.
The Southern Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids will peak simultaneously centered around the night of Sunday, July 30, into the early morning of Monday, July 31. However, it will not be a one-night-only event.
Both meteor showers have plateaulike peaks that last for about a week centered around the night of July 30, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS), meaning any night at the end of July or the start of August will offer views of shooting stars. This is much different than many other meteor showers that peak over the course of just one or two nights.
The two long-running meteor showers will combine for 15 to 20 meteors per hour, including the chance to spot a few incredibly bright meteors known as fireballs.
However, there will be some competition in the night sky at the end of July.
A nearly full moon will rise Sunday night, emitting moonlight that will wash out many of the dimmer meteors. For the best chance at spotting shooting stars, experts recommend viewing the Southern Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids after 3 a.m., local time, when the moon sets.
Meteors may still appear in the sky before the moon sets but will be best seen in darker areas of the sky where the moon is out of sight.
It’s not just the moon that could impede viewing conditions but also Mother Nature.
Favorable weather is in the offing Sunday night and early Monday morning from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast and into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Mainly cloud-free conditions are also in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest, Northern and Central California and parts of the Plains.
Weather will be more problematic for stargazers across the Rocky Mountains, Desert Southwest and areas of the Midwest, where cloudy conditions will obscure the sky throughout most of the night.
Since the pair of meteor showers have extended peaks, people who have a cloudy weather forecast for Sunday night can check the forecast for the nights before and nights after the peak and go meteor hunting on a night when the weather is more favorable.
The dueling meteor showers at the end of July will be an appetizer for stargazers ahead of an even more impressive astronomical event in mid-August.
The peak of the Perseid meteor shower will boast up to 100 shooting stars per hour on the weekend night of Saturday, Aug. 12, into the early hours of Aug. 13. The moon will not hinder viewing conditions like the Southern Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids at the end of July, making it a good year for the annual August sky event.
The Perseid meteor shower is touted as one of the best annual meteor showers not just due to its abundance of meteors but also the mild summer nights that create comfortable stargazing conditions.
Produced in association with AccuWeather
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