Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend, “Basically Going To Suck,” Says NASA Official

By Mo Mozuch on July 26, 2012 7:19 PM EDT

photo:reuters
photo:reuters

This year's Delta Aquarid meteor shower will peak overnight from Saturday to Sunday, but skywatchers aren't expecting anything spectacular. The light from the moon will make the sky too bright to see much.

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"It's basically going to suck," Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, told Space.com. "The peak will be only four days from the Aug. 2 full moon."

The moon will set around midnight, so night owl skywatchers may catch some of the 15-20 meteors per hour the Delta Aquarid shower is expected to generate during this year's peak.  Astronomers also say that getting away from light pollution, such as cities, is a must this year.

Scientists have not identified the comet responsible for the debris clouds that produce the Delta Aquarid shower every year. The meteors themselves appear to originate out of the constellation Aquarius, thus giving the shower its name.

Some astronomers name the 96P/Machholz comet as the parent comet for the shower. The comet happens to be "in the neighborhood" astronomically speaking, cruising some 85 million miles away from Earth this weekend. It is visible in the sky, near the constellation Leo, for about an hour after sunset.  This coincidence has some skywatchers  overlooking the low visibility this year.

"Just think... we could be seeing simultaneously in our skies both the Delta Aquarids and the parent comet they all originated from centuries ago! How cool is that?" wrote Andrew Fazekas on National Geographic's News Watch blog.

Many stargazers are focusing on another upcoming meteor shower instead. The Perseid meteor shower, considered to be among the best meteor showers every year, will peak overnight from Aug. 12 to Aug. 13.

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