Friday, July 27, 2012

Southern Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower, 28-29 July, 2012

Location of the radiant of the Southern Delta meteor shower. Left; location of radiant at 10:00 pm ACST on 28 July. Right; location of radiant at 3:00 am ACST 29 July (it is almost due north at this time), similar views will be seen a similar local times elsewhere in Australia, click to embiggen.

If you are up looking at the occultation of omicron Scorpii, why not look for some Southern Delta Aquariid meteors as well?

The number of meteors you will see depends on how high the radiant is above the horizon, and how dark your sky is. At 10 pm you should see a meteor about once every 15 minutes (the light from the nearly full Moon greatly reduces the numbers you will see) . At 3:00 am, when the radiant is highest and the Moon has set, those with dark skies can expect to see a meteor every 4 minutes.

When looking, be sure to let your eyes adjust for at least 5 minutes so your eyes can be properly adapted to the dark. Don't look directly at the radiant site, because the meteors will often start their "burn" some distance from it, but around a hand-span up or to the side. Be patient, although you should see an average of a meteor every four minutes, a whole stretch of time can go by without a meteor, then a whole bunch turn up one after the other.

Make yourself comfortable, choose an observing site that has little to obstruct the horizon (and doesn't have street lights getting in the way), have a comfortable chair to sit in (a banana lounger is best), or blankets and pillows. A hot Thermos of something to drink and LOTS of warm clothing will make your observing time comfortable. As well as meteors, keep an eye out for satellites (see Heavens Above for predictions from your site).

The sky will also be beautiful, with the Milky Way sinking in the west, and Jupiter, the Hyades and Pleiades rising in the east.

Use the NASA meteor shower flux estimator for an estimate of what the shower will be like from your location. You need to choose 5 Southern Delta Aquarids and remember to set the date to 27-28 July or 28-29 July 2012.