Find out how to see the peak of two meteor showers this weekend

Between Friday (29) and Sunday (31), the peak of two beautiful meteor showers takes place: the Southern Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids. Forecasts are optimistic: on these nights long awaited by space lovers, we will have the chance to see more than 30 meteors per hour.

This year, we will be helped by the Moon, which enters the new phase today (when it becomes “off”). With the sky dark, it is easier to observe the light trails. All this with the naked eye, without the need for any special equipment, and from any part of Brazil.

As the name suggests, the Southern Delta Aquarids has a radiant (point from which meteors appear to emerge, in the constellation Aquarius) easier to visualize in our hemisphere. It is very dense; at the height of its activity, between 20 and 25 meteors can be registered per hour, which are not so bright, but can fill the sky with “hazards”.

Alpha Capricornids have the radiant in the constellation of Capricorn. Its peak is less intense, with about five occurrences per hour, but it has a differential: meteors usually appear as very bright and explosive fireballs (bolides), leaving flashes in the sky, instead of the traditional trails.

In addition, there may be some remnants of the Piscis Austriids rain, which peaked yesterday (28). The best times to observe are the nights from Friday to Saturday (30) and Saturday to Sunday (31).

tips to observe

  1. Hope for a cloudless sky. look for a low light place, like a porch or backyard. The less light pollution, the more chances of observation.
  2. Be comfortable. Lie down or sit in a chair (preferably a reclining one), protect yourself from the cold and avoid using your cell phone (so you don’t get distracted or have your vision dazzled by the brightness of the screen).
  3. Be patient. Our eyes take about 20 minutes to get used to low light and to differentiate the brightness of different celestial bodies (stars, planets, meteors).
  4. From 10pm, look east (direction in which the sun rises). The constellations of Aquarius and Capricorn, where the radiant rains are located, will be appearing on the horizon.
  5. One astronomy app (like Skywalk, Starchart, Stellarium or Skyview) can help you find them. Capricorn will be just above Aquarius, with the bright planet Saturn between them. No need to stare: meteors can appear from anywhere around this area.
  6. Watch closely, keeping the focus of vision open, and wait for the meteors. The best time is between midnight and 4 am, when the constellations will be high above our heads, in the middle of the sky. Meteors can be seen until dawn.
  7. If you want to follow the tradition, don’t forget to make a request when you see a ‘shooting star’.

The show continues the following week, with fewer meteors (maybe ten per hour), but still pretty intense. It’s worth looking at the sky for the next three days as well.

Delta Aquáridas do Sul has already been registered. A camera at the Heller-Jung Observatory in Gramado caught 118 meteors in recent days. See an overlay of them:

delta aquarides - Heller-Jung Space Observatory - Heller-Jung Space Observatory
Image: Heller-Jung Space Observatory

In 2021, these rains gave a show in the Brazilian skies for about a week, even with the bright moon. Therefore, forecasts for this year are even more optimistic.

What are?

Meteors are small pieces of rocks and space dust, which burn when entering the Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed, generating the beautiful luminous phenomenon. They are harmless, and usually disintegrate well before they hit the ground.

When there is a “rain”, the activity is greater and concentrated, as the Earth is crossing a floating trail of debris, left by the passage of some celestial body orbiting the Sun. Delta Aquarids is generated by comet 96P/Machholz; to Alpha Capricornidas, for 169P/NEAT.

They take place once a year, every year between July and August. It is when the Earth, in its translational motion, crosses the orbit of the comet in question. During this period, for about 40 days, some of these particles reach our atmosphere; the peak lasts about two days, when we cross the most central and dense area of ​​the wake.

Larger and brighter meteors are called “fireballs”; those that explode at the end are also called bolides.

About Raju Singh

Raju has an exquisite taste. For him, video games are more than entertainment and he likes to discuss forms and art.

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