Saturday, July 13, 2013

Delta Aquarids Shower, July 12 to August 23, 2014 - Meteors Giving Us A Complex

#17, The Star from
Ciro Marchetti's The Legacy of the Divine Tarot©
In May we had the Eta Aquarids shower and now, out of the dark of southern sky, in the wee hours before dawn, comes the Delta Aquarids meteor shower.  Although this is not a particularly brilliant display, there are still plenty of interesting facts about the Delta Aquarids shower.  Like their cousin the Eta showers, the Delta showers’ radiant (point of origin) is the constellation, Aquarius.
(see blog: for the story of Aquarius and Ganymede)  The third brightest star in the constellation is called Delta, hence the naming of this particular meteor shower, Delta Aquarids. 

Also like the Eta showers, the Delta is more visible from the southern hemisphere.  The peak nights for observing Delta's rain of fire this year are July 25th and 27th.  However, if you live in a more rural area, you can eek out a few more nights of viewing before moonlight interferes with visibility. At peak, the Delta Aquarids meteors fall at a rate of 20 per hour with a speed of approximately 25 miles per second.  Don’t blink and don’t despair. You will still be able to catch sight of some of Delta’s meteors during the Perseids Shower in mid-August. 

#19, The Sun from
Ciro Marchetti's Legacy of the Divine Tarot©
The source of the Delta Aquarids meteors is still listed as ‘unknown,’ but the current culprit for the showers, and probably the correct one, is comet, 96P Machholz.  This comet was discovered in 1986 by Donald Machholz and it orbits the Sun every five years.

The Delta Aquarid shower is one of many minor summer showers that comprise a shower group called the Aquarid – Capricornid Complex. These showers are part of the
Summer Antihelion Source display.  The Antihelion Source, or ANT, is a large, oval-shaped area of space housing the radiants for several minor meteor showers.  Where most of us amateur astronomers will never be able to tell what meteor comes from what particular shower during this summer cacophony, professional astronomers can certainly tell the difference.  They also say that with careful observation we can as well.  I don’t know about you, but I favor the, “Ooooh, fireball pretty,” approach.  Below is a list of the Aquarid – Capricornid Complex/ANT showers and their peak nights.  Mark your calendars, pack up your favorite lawn chair and get ready to enjoy.



DELTA AQUARIDS July 28th and 29th (visibility may be better in August this year)


ALPHA CAPRICORNIDS  August 2nd (known for slow fireballs)

IOTA AQUARIDS August 6th and 7th

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