How to see the Delta Aquariids meteor shower in July 2023 including at its peak around July 30
A meteor shower which is about to take to the skies above us will peak at the end of the month – giving sky gazers the very best chance of seeing it.
The Delta Aquariids is known for kicking-off the summer meteor season and here’s how and when you could catch a shooting star.
What is the Delta Aquariid meteor shower?
The Delta Aquariids are a summer staple of the meteor season.
The event is described by experts at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich as a 'moderate’ meteor shower, which is why its peak in late July is felt to be the best time to see it.
They say it should produce ‘a steady stream’ of meteors over several days during the peak, but at a lower rate per hour than some more prolific displays that can deliver as many as 100 shooting stars every 60 minutes.
And while it is households in the southern hemisphere that could be treated to the best views those living in northern areas should still be able to catch it if they remain patient and weather conditions are kind.
What causes it?
Any meteor shower happens when the Earth moves through debris produced by a comet, and it is the bits of rock and dust in the debris stream that collides with our atmosphere and creates the fiery streaks that are then seen shooting across the sky.
The Royal Observatory says there remains some uncertainty as to which parent comet is behind the Aquariids shower and there have been a number of suggestions – but most recently it is felt it could be Comet 96P/Machholz that is four miles across in diameter.
When can you see it?
The meteor shower takes place roughly between mid-July and mid-to late August and this year is expected to finish by August 23.
The 2023 peak is most likely to happen around Sunday, July 30, when there will be the steadiest stream of meteors.
While some showers can create up to 100 meteors every hour the Aquariids will most likely see around 20 to 25 so you'll need to keep your eyes peeled.
You'll also have to be prepared for a late night – or early start – with experts suggesting you should begin watching from around 1am or 2am with the best of the action close to 3am or just after.
The Delta Aquarids can co-incide with the Perseids meteor shower – which also starts in late July but peaks in mid-August and is known for generating many fast bright meteors – so those watching after the end of the month could be witnessing a mixture of two displays.
Getting the best view
Before making plans to get up – or stay up late – check the weather forecast. Clear skies will give the you the greatest success and so if conditions aren't favourable try and look for the meteors on either side of the expected peak.
Being under a dark sky, with as little light pollution as possible, will also maximise your chances and you ideally need an unobstructed view looking south.
Stargazers recommend lying down on a blanket or using a garden chair to ensure you can look up and have the widest view possible of the sky. Binoculars or a telescope can sometimes narrow your view so don’t be afraid to attempt this with the naked eye.
Allow your eyes to get used to the dark, which means starting a little earlier than the peak to allow your body to adjust and if possible also avoid looking at your phone as the blue light it emits will also change how quick and able you are to adapt to the dark conditions and see what you're looking for.