Look! Shooting stars! Actually ... It's a meteor shower.
The Delta Aquariids (otherwise known as the Southern Delta Aquariids) are an annual meteor shower that is visible from late July to early August.
This meteor shower has been visible from around July 18, with a peak predicted on July 28.
During the peak of the shower, five to 20 meteors an hour can be expected.
Meteors are space rocks that have entered Eearth's atmosphere. These space rocks are called meteoroids whilst they are in space, and meteorites when they have reached the ground.
Meteoroids are smaller pieces of asteroids or comets that come from collisions with other objects in space.
Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, and sometimes they leave a tail for a few seconds (hence why people know them as shooting stars).
The tail that is produced can often be different colours, depending on the comet/asteroid that the meteors originated from as well as the speed it is falling at.
The faster a meteor falls to earth, the more intense the tail can appear.
If the meteors have an iron composition, they tend to have a yellow glow, for meteors that contain magnesium they can have a blue/teal glow.
The name of meteor showers come from the constellation that meteors appear to be falling out of.
With the Delta Aquariids coming out of the constellation Aquarius. Delta is in reference to the Delta star in the Aquarius constellation, that helps to guide where to look.
For the time of year, the southern hemisphere is positioned perfectly for these showers. During the July-through-August period, the constellation Aquarius is towards south but high in the sky, making the meteors easy to see.
So, we know that meteoroids come from comets and asteroids. Do we know what comet/asteroid these meteoroids came from?
Unfortunately, not really. It is suspected that the meteoroids are from the Comet, 96P/ Machholz 1.
The comet was found in 1986 by an amateur astronomer, Donald Machholz, only using binoculars. 96P/ Maccholz 1 has an area size around 121.4 square kilometres, meaning that it is larger than the Belconnen district in Canberra. Around six comets this size could fit inside the Canberra area.
This is what could be called a medium-sized comet (about half the size of the object that may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs) that orbits the sun every 5.28 years.
If you are unable to see this meteor shower, fear not.
The Delta Aquariids will not be the last meteor shower to witness this year.
The biggest meteor shower to watch this year will be the Orionids, from the beginning of October to the beginning of November.
These meteors originated from the famous Halley's Comet and have a radiant around the constellation of Orion.
So, if you can, get out and watch these awesome astronomical events this year.
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