Two Meteor Showers Peak Tonight Bringing Awesome Viewing Opportunities

A Geminid meteor streaks between peaks of the Seven Sisters rock formation early on December 14, 2018 in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Tonight, sky gazers have the opportunity to see dozens of meteors per hour streak across the sky thanks to two peaking showers. Tonight’s viewing should provide the most spectacular show of the past three months. Both the Southern delta Aquariids (SDA) and the alpha Capricornids (CAP) reach their pinnacle tonight, and the Perseids are also active right now.

According to a CBS News report, people in optimal viewing conditions should see as many as 25 “shooting stars” each hour late Monday, July 29 into early Tuesday, July 30. Tonight’s viewing conditions are especially good because the new moon will rise in a few days, which makes for a darker sky tonight. Of course, regions with cloud cover or light pollution will have a more difficult time seeing the multitude of meteors available tonight as the tails of comets pass through earth’s atmosphere.

People who have recently been outside watching the nighttime sky may have seen meteoroids from the alpha Capricornids, which are active from July 3 through August 11. People in both hemispheres can easily view the CAPs. July 12 to August 23 also brings the Delta Aquariids, which also peak this week. They’re best viewed from the Southern hemisphere, but stargazers will likely see some even if they’re in the Northern hemisphere. The meteors will shoot from the southern sky and appear out of the constellations of Aquarius and Capricornus for which the showers are named.

The best viewing times for tonight’s dueling meteor showers is after midnight local time and before dawn. The best way to view them is away from big cities and well-lit areas lying down and looking up at the sky. NASA recommends a sleeping back or comfortable lawn chair and a blanket for optimal enjoyment.

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Several areas throughout the eastern, middle, and western United States will experience optimal viewing conditions overnight tonight too, according to Accuweather. If a late Monday night isn’t great this week, though, the next good viewing time will be during the Perseids. This shower peaks on another Monday into Tuesday from late August 12 into the early morning of August 13.

“The Perseids are the most popular meteor shower as they peak on warm August nights as seen from the Northern Hemisphere,” said the American Meteor Society.

However, this year, the moon will be nearly full during the peak viewing of the Perseids, which means later this week will provide a good view of the meteorites for those who are in areas with optimal conditions. This year the Perseids are active from July 17th through August 26th.