Bristol: Fireball flies through the sky in incredible moment
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The annual occurrence of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is associated with the dusty trail of Comet 96P Machholz. As the comet races around the Sun, the star’s heat causes it to shed bits and pieces of material that are left behind in its orbit. Our planet happens to slam into this cosmic field each year, producing the Delta Aquariid shower between July and early August.
At the same time, Earth happens to cross the orbit of another comet – 169P/NEAT.
The tiny particles and debris shed by the icy objects burn up when they fall through the atmosphere, producing beautiful and sometimes colourful displays of light.
So if you have ever wished upon a falling star, you actually witnessed a tiny piece of comet or asteroid that got pulled in towards Earth.
If you’re lucky, you might even have a chance of spotting a fireball or two this week.
Fireballs are exceptionally bright meteors that can be seen across a wide area.
If you spot any this week – or even manage to snap a picture or video – be sure to let the UK Meteor Network (UKMON) know.
Your observations could be of great interest and value for scientists.
The group said: “Our cameras don’t cover 100 percent of the sky, and sometimes we miss important fireball events. The public helps us tremendously.”
Just be quick! Meteors fall through the skies at speeds of seven to 45 miles per second.
Meteor spotted in night sky over Northern Ireland
When will the Delta Aquariid meteor shower peak?
Although the meteor shower is active for nearly a month, it is best seen on one night in particular – the night of its peak.
According to Dhara Patel, a Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer, this peak is expected to fall on the night of Wednesday, July 28, through to the morning of Thursday, July 29.
Delta Aquariids produce a steady stream of meteors though they are not as spectacular as the Perseids, which peak on August 12 this year.
Astronomers typically expect up to 20 meteors an hour to make an appearance during the peak.
However, Ms Patel told Express.co.uk the shower is aided by the Alpha Capricornids, which peak on the very night.
The shower will appear to enter the skies from its namesake constellation Aquarius, which sits close to the gas giant Jupiter.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Delta Aquariids on the southeast skies from about 11pm.
The radiant or point of entry will climb higher throughout the night.
Just keep in mind your views may be somewhat spoiled by the Waning Gibbous Moon, which is still very bright.
Ms Patel said: “The Delta Aquariids will be a tricky shower to observe so if you’re determined to spend a few good hours meteor spotting, a summer deck chair can make the viewing experience a lot more comfortable.
“And a silver lining – radiating from the neighbouring constellation of Capricornus, the Alpha Capricornus meteor shower will also be peaking on the same night.
“Although very few meteors are expected from it, some exciting fireballs could bring some glamour to the show.”
A good tip when watching a meteor shower is to find a wide-open area with an unobstructed view of the horizon and no sources of light.
A field or park are great as they allow you to comfortably lie back and see as much of the sky at once as possible.
Street lights, cars and buildings can all hinder your viewing experience.
Once you find the perfect spot, turn off your phone, dress appropriately for the weather, and give your eyes up to 20 minutes to adjust to the dark.
To make the experience even more special, pack some drinks and snacks as you might be meteor-hunting for a while.
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