The overlap of two peaking meteor showers this week could light up tonight’s sky with dozens of shooting stars.
Both the alpha Capricornids and the Southern delta Aquariids reach maximum activity toward the end of July – and, with the new moon nearing, extra dark skies could make for prime viewing.
The alpha Capricornids peaked this weekend and will continue to produce visible meteors through the beginning of next month, while the Aquariids will peak Monday night into Tuesday.
According to the American Meteor Society, the Southern delta Aquariids have been active since July 21 and will reach maximum activity on the 30th.
These meteors tend to be relatively faint, AMS says, though there may be as many as 10 to 30 visible in the sky per hour.
Where you live will determine how many you’ll be able to see.
‘For observers in mid-northern latitudes, the radiant lies low in the south and hourly rates will lie closer to 10,’ according to the AMS.
‘The radiant is best placed in the southern tropics where it passes overhead and rates there will be closer to 30 at maximum.’
The alpha Capricornids, on the other hand, went into swing earlier in the month and reached their peak on July 27.
They’re expected to continue at a dwindling rate through August 11, and may bring three to four per hour.
Viewers in mid-northern latitudes will have the best chance of seeing one of these fireballs.
The alpha Capricornids will now be much more visible than they were earlier in the month, when they had to compete with light from the bright full moon.
As the alpha Capricornids come to an end, the Perseids will begin to start popping up.
But, a full moon could steal much of the show.
The Perseids peak on August 13 and typically bring as many as 100 shooting stars per hour. With the peak being two days before the full moon, though, visibility won’t be ideal.
‘Under such circumstances Perseid rates will usually be reduced by at least 75%,’ according to the AMS.
‘These rates are still better than most nights of the year. So if your sky is clear and transparent it would not be a waste to try and view this activity.
‘Just be certain that you view in the opposite direction of the moon so that you can see the faintest possible meteors.’