Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2020

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2020

22/07/2020Written by Malika Andress

In 2020, the Delta Aquarids peak during the night of 29-30 July, with up to 20 meteors per hour.

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Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower

This week, look up! The Delta Aquarids are coming to a night sky near you. In 2020, peak activity occurs in the evening of 29-30 July.

The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is an annual shower that can be seen from 12 July until 23 August. This year the peak will fall on the night of Wednesday 29 July and the morning of Thursday 30 July. The Delta Aquarids are a small to medium shower, reaching a peak rate of around 20 meteors per hour.

The radiant of the shower lies above the southern horizon and will reach its highest point around 3:30am – start your meteor watch from around 2am to increase your chances of spotting meteors.

Icy Origin

Icy Origin
Artist's impression of comet debris. Credit: NASA

Most meteor showers are caused by the debris left behind from comets that melt as they orbit the Sun. Each year, the Earth passes through some of these debris paths and small dust grains hit Earth’s atmosphere at enormously high speeds. They heat up in the atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light that we call meteors.

The comet that created the debris for the Delta Aquarids is not quite known, but it may be from a comet called 96P Machholz, which only takes about five years to orbit the Sun.

How to Watch

Credit: Stellarium

Credit: Stellarium

The radiant point of the Delta Aquarids sits in the constellation of Aquarius, hence the name. If you were to trace the shooting stars back to their radiant point you may notice something quite interesting. The Delta Aquarids actually have two radiant points. The shower is actually a combination of two showers, the Northern and the Southern Delta Aquarids. The southern shower starts earlier and is a little more active, while the northern portion covers the end of the timescale and generally has a lower rate.

While the meteors appear to originate from Aquarius, they are best seen 30 degrees away from origin, so be sure to keep careful watch across the whole sky.

To view the Delta Aquarids from the UK, head outside anytime after midnight on the night of the 29-30 July.

Look up, keep an eye on the whole sky, and find a location as far from city lights as you can!

If it’s cloudy on the 29th, you can always try your luck on a nearby day. The Delta Aquarids are active from 12 July – 23 August, and will overlap with the biggest meteor shower of the year – the Perseids!

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic
Credit: National Space Centre

Download our National Space Centre Meteor Shower Guide to make sure you are fully prepared to watch the Delta Aquarids! And stay tuned for our guide to the Perseids, peaking 12 August 2020.

Other upcoming meteor showers for 2020 include:

Perseids
Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Perseus
Peak Activity: 12/13 Aug 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 90 meteors per hour

Orionids
Comet of Origin: Halley
Radiant: constellation Orion
Peak Activity: 21/22 Oct 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Taurids
Comet of Origin: 2P/Encke
Radiant: constellation Taurus
Peak Activity: 10/11 Nov 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Leonids
Comet of Origin: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Leo
Peak Activity: 16/17 Nov 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Geminids
Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Peak Activity: 14/15 Dec 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour

Ursids
Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: 21/22 December 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour

 

Clear skies!