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Peak Dates For The Perseids And Delta Aquarids In The Coming Weeks

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to dazzle stargazers next month, but sky watchers can also enjoy the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which started on July 12 and is expected to last until Aug. 23.

The Delta Aquarid meteor showers' highlights will light up the night sky on the nights of July 28 and 29, wherein people can see up to 20 flashes per hour. People in the southern hemisphere will enjoy most of the sights from the Aquarids. However, the meteor showers will still be visible in the northern hemisphere.

The Delta Aquarids and Perseids are expected to overlap, but the Perseids this year is believed to be one of the most popular meteor extravaganzas of 2016.

The best time to watch these meteor showers is about 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., somewhere between midnight and dawn. The Aquarids appear a little faint, so experts advise to choose a stargazing spot carefully, preferably one without artificial light or moonlight.

The peak dates for the Delta Aquarid meteor shower will coincide with a new moon. This means darker skies, which will make the shooting stars all the more visible to the naked eye.

For those who can't go outdoors to watch the showers on their own, an online observatory called Slooh offers people with a live broadcast of the shower from a Canary Islands-based observatory. The live broadcast also features astronomers who will discuss the phenomenon and answer questions from the public.

"The slightly mysterious nature of these often-overlooked shooting stars adds to the night's fun," said astronomer Bob Berman from Slooh last year.

The two meteor showers are expected to overlap, but stargazers can differentiate them by finding their "radiant." The Aquarids radiate from a close star called Skat or Delta Aquarii, which is located in the Aquarius (Water Bearer) constellation. People in the northern hemisphere will find the Delta Aquarids coming from the South.

On the other hand, the Perseids will radiate from the Perseus constellation and come from north or northeast. For people in the southern hemisphere, the Aquarids will appear to come from directly above them while the Perseids will appear from the northern horizon.

People can observe these meteor showers without special equipment, as they are highly visible to the naked eye. A comfortable reclining chair or warm blanket will do. However, you can also bring binoculars and a warm thermos filled with a hot drink to make the wait more comfortable.

Photo: Joshua Tree National Park | Flickr

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