Two different meteor showers will be streaking their way across the skies throughout the end of July well into August.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA一 Southern California’s night skies are going to be full of shooting stars through the end of August. The American Meteor Society has posted a schedule of meteor showers throughout 2021 and the Perseids meteor shower and Southern Delta Aquariids meteor shower are expected to light up the night skies for the next month and a half.
Meteor showers, which are named for the constellations where they appear according to the NASA website, happen when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid. The meteors themselves are bits of rock and ice ejected from comets, then when they burn up, they leave bright streaks across the sky gaining the nickname shooting stars or falling stars.
The Perseids shower was expected to start on July 17 and will run through August 24, with peak nights on August 11 and 12, the meteor shower can be observed between 10 p.m. and 4:40 a.m. with the peak hour between 3:40 a.m. and 4:40 a.m.
“Perseid meteors are produced by particles shed by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle,” according to the Griffith Observatory website. “They hit our atmosphere at 37 miles (59 kilometers) per second.”
Griffith expects 83 meteors per hour and said that the moon sets just as the meteors will start to appear meaning there will be great viewing conditions for this shower.
The Perseid’s meteor shower will radiate from a point in the constellation of Perseus the Hero. Perseus’s constellation is in the northern sky next to Andromeda and represents the Greek hero Perseus who defeated Medusa and rescued the princess, Andromeda. The legend says they lie next to each other in the night sky.
The South Delta Aquariids meteor shower was expected to start on July 21 and will run through August 23 with peak nights on July 27 and 28, the meteors can be observed from 10 p.m. until approximately 4:27 a.m. with the peak hour between 2:34 a.m. and 3:34 a.m.
“South Delta Aquariid meteors may be produced by particles shed by a sun-grazing comet,” according to the Griffith Observatory website. “They strike our atmosphere at 25 miles (41 kilometers) per second. The radiant of the shower is in the constellation Aquarius the Water Carrier, found in the southern sky after midnight.”
There are an expected 12 meteors per hour and due to bright moonlight, there will be interference with the observations.
The Delta Aquariid meteors seem to radiate from a point near the front of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer, and favors the Southern Hemisphere but can sometimes be visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
Aquarius is one of the 12 zodiac constellations and throughout history and across cultures has been associated with water.
In Greek mythology, Aquarius is associated with their tale of the great flood, which parallels the Old Testament, and in ancient Egypt, the constellation represents Hapi, God of the Nile, according to the EarthSky website.
Bill Cooke, the lead for the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, gave some meteor shower watching tips in an April 13 article with Space.com.
Basically, it is narrowed down to getting as far away from light pollution as possible; give your eyes 30-45 minutes to adjust to the dark night sky; leave your phone inside; and lay flat on your back to take in as much of the night sky as possible.
“You do not want to look at the radiant,” Cooke said in the article. “A good philosophy is to lie on your back and look straight up. And that way, you take in as much of the sky as you can.”
For more information on the meteors falling in 2021 and 2022 see the Griffith Observatory website at https://griffithobservatory.org/explore/observing-the-sky/whats-in-the-sky/meteors/