AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the biggest meteor showers of the year will peak this weekend, giving you the perfect chance to get out and witness this cosmic wonder. The Delta Aquariids meteor shower will peak on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31.
This year is a great one to see this meteor shower. We’ll have a waxing crescent moon Saturday night, meaning only about 3% of the moon will be lit up. There will be scattered clouds in the early evening, but clear skies later that night. Those clouds will return Sunday morning.
Around 20 meteors will fall per hour, according to NASA. They’ll fall at around 25 miles per second. You may have already seen some of these meteors. Earlier this week, one was caught on camera passing over a Central Texas neighborhood.
How to view the Delta Aquariids meteor shower
NASA has some tips for viewing this meteor shower. Find a spot well away from the city; the less light the better. The meteor shower can best be seen at about 45 degrees from the constellation Aquarius. This is located about halfway “between the horizon and the zenith.”
It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. NASA said you will need this time to properly see the meteor shower.
What’s the deal with the Delta Aquariids?
This meteor shower can be blamed on a comet, 96P/Machholz, according to NASA. This comet passes through our solar system, trapped in an orbit around our sun. When the Earth passes through its tail, debris from the comet gets caught in our planet’s orbit and falls to the ground.
The Machholz comet originates from the Aquarius constellation, which is where the meteor shower gets its name. The comet was discovered by Donald Machholz in 1986, according to NASA.
The Delta Aquariids aren’t our best meteor shower this year. That would be the Perseids meteor shower. That one peaks in just a few weeks on Aug. 13. During that meteor shower, you will be able to see up to 100 meteors per hour.
Meteoroids vs. meteorites
While both are called “shooting stars,” meteoroids and meteorites are not the same thing. Meteoroids are objects in space that can be as small as a grain of dust or as large as a small asteroid. Basically rocks in space, according to NASA.
Meteorites are any rock that falls through the atmosphere and survives the trip. Once it is on the ground it gains this distinction. Meteors are what we call these rocks while they are mid-flight.