The peak shooting star season has arrived with six meteor showers expected to pepper Earth in the upcoming weeks as the planet hurtles through fields of cometary debris.
The image above captures a meteor illuminating the night sky above Sydney, Australia, on the night of July 28. With the view of the southern sky, Australians will be able to enjoy the Piscis Austrinids, the Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower, and the Alpha Capricornids meteor showers in the first week of August in addition to the famed Perseids, which will peak in the middle of the month.
This year’s Perseids, however, will be rather spoiled as the peak will coincide with the full moon, which means only the brightest meteors will be visible in the lighter than usual sky.
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According to Space.com’s sky-watching columnist Joe Rao, the other five shooting star displays in August will enjoy a much darker sky, taking place closer to the new moon.
The Alpha Capricornids, which peaked earlier this week, are a rather diffuse shower, with only a few meteors hitting Earth’s atmosphere every hour. The display is named after the constellation Capricorn, from which it appears to emanate.
The Piscis Austrinids, mostly visible from the Southern Hemisphere, originate in the constellation Pisces. This shower is also relatively sparse, at about eight meteors per hour.
The Delta Aquarids, which appear to arrive from the constellation Aquarius, are a slightly denser meteor shower with a few dozen shooting stars expected during the peak nights around July 30.
The Iota Aquariids shower comes just before the Perseids and peaks around Aug. 6, just before the waxing moon will start spoiling the observations. The shower is quite thin, with less than ten meteors expected every hour.
The famous Perseids usually deliver more than 60 meteors per hour. Just how many will be visible this year remains a question as the peak of the shower (Aug. 11 to 13) coincides with the August full moon.
The final shower of the summer will be the Kappa Cygnids, peaking on Aug. 17, which although very sparse, sometimes delivers exceptionally spectacular flaring fireballs.
If you want advice on how to photograph meteor showers, check out our how to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide and if you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
And if you capture a particularly spectacular shooting star, send us your image at firstname.lastname@example.org.