How, when and where to watch the amazing Delta Aquariids meteor shower
Everything you need to know to ensure you have the best viewing experience during the peak of Delta Aquariid meteor shower taking place over the next two days
The Southern Delta Aquariids, better known as the Delta Aquariid meteor showers, are generally visible between July 12 and August 23 — with the peak activity typically taking place at the end of July. This year's peak is set to happen on July 27 and 28. The first falling coincidentally on the same night as this century's longest lunar eclipse and brightest Mars since 2003. This will provide a few lucky people living in the right hemispheres with the opportunity to glimpse both at the same time.
Where to watch the Delta Aquariid meteor shower
Before we reveal where you can glimpse the majestic shower, a brief dive into the etymology is only fair. The Delta Aquariids get their name because their radiant — the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate — appears to lie in the Aquarius constellation, near one of the constellation's brightest stars Delta Aquarii.
Those living on the planet's southern hemisphere are best suited to catch the meteor shower, especially since the meteors themselves are faint. However, those living at mid-northern latitudes or the southernmost latitudes of the northern hemisphere can glimpse the meteors as well.
What are the ideal conditions for a better viewing experience
The good news is that you don't need a telescope or any special equipment to catch the shower and can do so with just your naked eye. However, if you live in a metropolitan city, then it's recommended that you drive away to a location that is far enough not to be affected by the light pollution since the meteors are faint. NASA also suggests one allow their eyes to adjust to the total darkness at least 30 minutes beforehand for optimum viewing conditions. The best time to do so would be around 2 am (3 am Daylight Saving Time) for all time zones as the radiant point is highest in the sky.
According to estimates, viewers can expect about 20 meteors/hour, which translates to roughly one every three minutes, meaning that your chance of catching one is quite high.
What if you miss it
There's nothing to worry about if you miss the two days due to other commitments as the showers continue well into August. Furthermore, while it is the peak of the shower, it makes little difference on the average number of meteors that streak across the sky in any given hour, which practically remains the same throughout at 20 per hour.
Earthsky.org also reports that, as we move into August, the moon begins deserting the morning sky, waning down to its narrow crescent phase. During the week beginning August 8, the moon will be rising increasingly later each morning and interfere lesser and lesser with the meteors, until the no-moon night of August 11 which will provide the clearest sky yet.
Who will be able to catch both the longest lunar eclipse and the meteor shower
Those who find themselves in the eastern hemisphere, particularly Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, southern Asia, and the Indian Ocean, will find themselves in the unique position of having the opportunity to view the Delta Aquariids streak past the day's fully-eclipsed blood moon. Add to that the fact that Mars will be the brightest on the day since any since 2003, it's practically a must-see event.
A special treat in August
Lastly, August will see the Delta Aquariids overlap with the prolific Perseid meteor showers. As we mentioned previously, the moon will be absent from the sky on August 11 (i.e. new moon) providing a rare chance to view both showers at once. Because the radiant of the Perseid meteor showers lies in the Perseus constellation and is easily visible for those in the northern hemisphere while the opposite goes for the Aquariids, so you would be seeing meteors streaking in two different directions!