Stargazers, it’s your time to shine.
Every year, the second half of the summer season offers some of the best opportunities to see shooting stars and even fireballs, as two successive meteor showers — the Delta Aquariids and the Perseids — converge to grace our skies.
The Delta Aquariids fly roughly from July 18 to August 21, reaching a maximum rate of 20 meteors per hour during their nightly peak around 2 a.m., according to the website EarthSky.org. This meteor shower can be more faint than the Perseids that follow, favoring dark nights and viewing locations in the southern U.S. Nevertheless, because they converge with the more-visible Perseids, they’ll help increase stargazers’ chances of seeing meteors over peak nights in late July and early August.
Peaking a few weeks after the Delta Aquariids, the beloved and well-known Perseid meteor shower is lighting up our skies now through September 1. While the Perseid peak is technically August 11-13, those dates coincide with a full moon this year, meaning some of the meteor shower’s brilliance will be obscured by moonglow over those nights.
For that reason, it’s recommended that the best time to watch the Perseids is a few weeks before the actual peak: from late evening to dawn in early August, when the moon is absent or just a sliver.
In years with perfect viewing conditions — namely, a truly dark and cloudless sky with no moon — Perseids watchers can report 90 or more meteors per hour.
While that might not be the case this year, you’ll no doubt still see some magic if you set aside the time to gaze skyward on these remaining summer nights.
Learn more about all things night sky at earthsky.org.