2022 Delta Aquariids

Best viewed: 30 July 2022

No one is quite sure which comet is responsible for the Delta Aquariids but that doesn’t stop them being a great meteor shower!=

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What is the Delta Aquariid meteor shower?

  • Every year, the Earth goes once around the Sun. And every July, the Earth crashes into a cloud of debris left behind by an unknown comet. As the debris burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere, it produces the meteor shower that we call the Delta Aquariids.
  • At its peak, the Delta Aquariids can produce 25 meteors per hour. However, they’re usually faint meteors without long trails and they rarely turn into a fireball.

When is the best time to see the Delta Aquariid meteor shower in 2022?

  • The best time to see the Delta Aquariids in 2022 is in the early hours of Saturday 30th July. The peak activity occurs at around 3.30am but you should aim to start watching from 2.00am.
  • Viewing conditions are excellent for 2022, with the Moon being completely dark on 30th July.
  • The Delta Aquariids will start appearing from 12th July and continue until 30th August. The number of meteors is highest during the week around the peak on 30th July.

How can I see the Delta Aquariid meteor shower from the UK?

  • You don’t need any special equipment to see the Delta Aquariid meteor shower from the UK but a bit of preparation is a good idea.
  • First, check the weather forecast. If it’s going to be cloudy, then try the days before or after the peak viewing period.
  • Next, find a dark (but safe!) place with a clear view away from buildings, trees, and street lights. Use a star map or app to locate the bright star Delta Aquarii in the constellation of Aquarius. This is the radiant point for the Delta Aquariids. If you want to see the best meteors with the longest tails, you need to aim your gaze to the left or right by about 45 degrees. If you gaze directly at the radiant, you’ll only see meteors with short tails.
  • Also, make sure you turn off all torches and phones for 15 minutes so that your eyes can adjust to the darkness. If you need to use a torch, then consider buying one with a red filter.
  • Finally, make sure that you’re warm and comfortable. The Delta Aquariids only appear in the early hours, so keep your eyes peeled!

If you are planning to take pictures of meteors, Mary McIntyre has some very useful tips for you on how to take better meteor pictures.

Another great way to watch the Lyrids is to buy or build yourself a meteor camera. You’ll be able to create amazing time lapse videos like the one below and join the UK network of 153 meteor cameras. You don’t need any previous experience and it’s a great project to do with your kids or students!

Fun facts about the Delta Aquariid meteor shower

  • They’re called the Delta Aquariids because the meteors seem to come from the bright star Delta Aquarii in the constellation of Aquarius. However, they’re actually caused by the Earth crashing into debris left behind by an unknown comet.
  • For many years, it was thought that the meteor shower originated from the breakup of the Marsden and Kracht sungrazing comets.
  • More recently, astronomers have identified Comet 96P/Machholz as the likely source of the Delta Aquariids. This sungrazing comet takes just over 5 years to complete one orbit around the Sun.
  • Sungrazing comets pass extremely close to the Sun, sometimes within a few thousand miles. This causes ice in the comet to vaporise and loosens small bits of rock and dust which can then result in meteor showers.
  • Unlike most meteor showers, there’s no sharp peak for the Delta Aquariids. Instead, the best viewing period lasts for about a week around 30th July.
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