bisnis.com, Jakarta – Every year, two meteor showers illuminate the Earth, the famous Perseids and Delta Aquariades.
In mid-July, Earth enters a meteor stream for each of these showers.
In other words, you might see a Delta Aquariid or Perseid this July 2022. Delta Aquariids always reach their peak in late July. And the Perseid always peaks around August 12 and 13.
But in 2022, moonlight will disturb the peak of the Perseid. So you are advised to look for meteors in these two big showers in late July and early August.
There is a modest estimate for the peak of this meteor shower to occur on July 29, 2022. But don’t worry too much about the peak date. The Delta Aquariid Meteor Will Last For Weeks!
Nearest lunar phase: In 2022, a new moon falls on July 28 at 17:55 UTC. And on 12 August the full moon will fall at 1:36 UTC. Take advantage of moonlit mornings in late July and early August to view the Delta Aquariids (and the Perseids).
The maximum hourly rate of Delta Aquariids can reach 20 meteors in a dark sky without a moon, when the beam is high in the sky. If you look at the beginning of August, the numbers will increase.
Like May’s Eta Aquarids, July’s Delta Aquarids love the Southern Hemisphere. Skywatchers ignore this at high northern latitudes. But in South America from such latitudes rain can be very good. The Delta Aquariid meteors are fainter than the Perseid meteors. That’s why a moonless dark sky is very important. About 5% to 10% of Delta Aquariid meteors leave a continuous train, a trail of glowing ionized gas that lasts a second or two after the meteor has passed.
The core of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower comes from Comet Complex 96P/Machholz.
The 96P/Machholz complex is a collection of eight meteor showers, which include the Delta Aquariids, plus two comet groups (Marsden and Krach), and at least one asteroid (2003 EH1). This meteor shower, and these comets, appear to be of a common origin (although they now deviate slightly in their orbits around the Sun).
They all belong to a comet called 96P/Machholz, which I discovered on May 12, 1986 from Mount Loma Prieta in California.
When discovered, Comet Andromeda was between 10 and two degrees south of the Milky Way. I used a 6 inch homemade binoculars for this find. Read the story of his discovery.
Scientists doubted the existence of complex 96P/Machholz in 2003 and fully described it in 2005, when they conducted further research.
Comet 96P/Machholz orbits the Sun every 5.3 years and is eight times closer to the Sun than us. That is, the perihelion distance is 0.12 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. So this comet is within the orbit of Mercury. Over the course of 4,000 years, the comet’s orbit changes shape and tilt, causing particles to be released throughout the Solar System. This will happen!
A recent study showed that the material that caused the Delta Aquariid meteor shower left the center of the comet about 20,000 years ago. This is the old dust that is spread across our sky.
Perseids? Or Delta Aquariid?
The Perseid and Delta Aquariid meteors fly across the sky at the same time of year. How can you tell them apart? This is where the concept of beam point comes in handy. If you trace all the Delta Aquariid meteors, they appear to radiate from a fixed point in front of the constellation Aquarius, which, when viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, subsides in the southern sky.
Meanwhile, the Perseids emerge from the Perseus constellation high in the northeast between midnight and dawn, visible in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere.
So let’s say you’re in the northern hemisphere, and looking around or after midnight.
If you see them coming from the south, they are Delta Aquariids.
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