Excited to see the two meteor showers at their peak this week until August 23? Here are some things you need to know.

Every year in late July, the Earth passes through the debris left by two comets. One that creates the southern delta aquariids, and one that creates the alpha Capricorn and meteor shower.

Meteors are often called shooting stars, but they're not really stars at all. The streaks of light you see in the sky are small particles of rock or ice that burn up as they fall through the Earth's atmosphere. Most of them are the size of a grain of sand, but some larger ones make it to the ground as meteorites when they're still in space meteors are called meteoroids. They are pieces of debris removed from the surfaces of comets and asteroids. This debris continues in orbit around the sun as meteoroid streams.

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A meteor shower occurs when the Earth moves through one of these streams as the Earth plows through the debris. The atmosphere acts like the windshield of a car driving through a snowstorm, and meteors can be seen to streak across the sky.

The Southern Delta Aquariids

The southern delta aquarium meteoroid stream is thought to come from the comet macholts, which passes by Earth's orbit every 5.3 years and comes unusually close to the sun. The alpha capricornian meteoroid stream comes from comet neat, which passes by Earth's orbit every 4.2 years.

The Earth moves through these streams in the same part of its orbit each year, so these two meteor showers are always active in our skies during July and August this year. They both will peak in the wee hours of July 29th.

Meteor showers are named for the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate called the radiant. The location of the radiant depends on the combined motion of the Earth and the meteoroids. These two meteor showers happen to have radiants that are near each other in the sky.

The radiant of the southern delta Aquarius is near the star delta. in the constellation, Aquarius and the radiant of the alpha capricornids is near the star alpha, in the constellation Capricornus

How to see the meteor shower this July 2020

All you need to see meteors are your own two eyes and a dark sky. You'll want to be on that windshield side of the Earth as it plows through the meteoroid stream.

But you also want the radiant to be as high as possible while the sky is still dark this year. The best viewing window is between 2 am, and 4 am local daylight savings time on July 29th.

You'll find the radiants for both of these meteor showers low in the southern sky. This year both Jupiter and Saturn are located quite close to the alpha capricorned radiant and mars trails behind the southern delta aquarium radiant.

The southern delta aquarian meteoroids approach Earth from below the plane of our solar system. This meteor shower usually produces about 10 to 20 faint meteors per hour.

The alpha capricornic meteor shower produces only five or so meteors per hour because they travel roughly with the Earth. when they cross our orbit, these meteors tend to move slowly but fairly good chances for bright fireballs.

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