July’s Delta Aquarid Meteor Showers When To Watch For Them
There are so many things happening in the night sky in July, including the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. This shower peaks during the predawn hours of July 28-30. It’s a modest meteor display producing 10 to 20 meteors per hour on average. The meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Aquarius, near the star Delta Aquarii, hence the name “Delta Aquarids.”
This annual shower occurs because the Earth passes through the stream of debris left behind by Comet 96P/Maccholz.
The Delta Aquarids are considered to be the “warm-up” to the beloved and more prolific Perseid Meteor Shower, which peaks two weeks later on the night of August 11-12. If you catch sight of any swift, bright meteors streaking from out of the opposite part of the sky (north or northeast) you’re probably seeing a few early forerunners of the Perseid display. On the evening of the 28th, the constellation Aquarius will be reaching its highest point in the southern sky by 1 a.m. local time. From then, through the balance of the night, you’ll be able to count the shooting stars.
For Best Viewing, Find A Dark Sky . . .
The farther away you are from bright lights, and the more sky you can see, the more “shooting stars” you will see. So, if you’re trying to watch from a city street corner, surrounded by tall buildings, you’re not going to have good luck. Try to get to as dark an observing site as you can. Break out a lawn chair or sleeping bag and keep your eyes moving around on the region directly overhead and toward the southern part of the sky. These meteors appear as moderately swift streaks of light.
July 17 – New Moon “Star View”
The new Moon occurs at 2:32 p.m. EDT.
July 18 – The “Coat Hanger” Asterism
Up for a challenge? Most stargazers have heard of the Pleiades, Hyades, and the Beehive (mentioned in the June Night Sky Guide), but what about the “Coat Hanger?” Some evening this week at around 10:30 p.m. local time, turn your binoculars southeast to the region of the sky roughly halfway between the bright stars Altair and Vega and you will discover Brocchi’s Cluster in the constellation of Vulpecula (pronounced Vulpeck-
kula) the Fox. During the 1920s Dalmiro Francis Brocchi, chart maker for the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) designed a map depicting the region of the sky around Vulpecula, revealing this cluster. For some reason though, Brocchi’s Cluster is hardly ever mentioned in most astronomy books. Yet, it is the brightest of all the star clusters in that part of the sky. In a clear, dark sky you might perceive it with the naked eye as a fuzzy patch of light, but in binoculars you’ll see it as a curious grouping of stars. An east-west line of six stars forms a crossbar and four more form a hook attached to its middle, which looks like an inverted coat hanger. These 10 stars are all 5th to 7th magnitude. In the Swedish astronomer’s Per Collinder’s star catalogue, drawn-up in 1931, it is cluster No. 399, hence its “official” designation, Collinder 399.
July 19 – Venus, Mercury, And The Crescent Moon
About one half hour after sunset, look low on the western horizon for Venus, which serves as a landmark for locating a very thin waxing crescent Moon about a fist-widths at arm’s length to its right. About half a fistwidth to the lower right of the Moon will be Mercury (reappearing as an “evening star” in the twilight sky). Scanning this region of the sky with binoculars will improve your chances of sighting all three. Note: Find a clear view of the horizon without trees or tall buildings.
July 20+21 – Moon Tracks with Mars
Did you know that the Moon moves right to left (west to east) over the course of the month? (This is the opposite direction that it appears to move on any given night.) Get a glimpse of its true motion as it orbits the Earth by using Mars as a landmark on these two nights! (Mars is much slower moving than the Moon, so it makes a great reference point.)
On the first night, July 20, the waxing crescent Moon will be positioned to the upper right of Mars. The following night, July 21, the Moon will be positioned well to the upper left of the tiny planet. Bear in mind that Mars will be very faint in the sky!
If either of these two nights happens to be cloudy or foggy, rest assured there will be many other chances to track the Moon in the future. Stick with us!
July 21 – Venus, Mars, And The Crescent Moon
This evening, a slightly wider crescent Moon stands eight degrees above Venus. Regulus lies almost directly between them. And sitting about 4 degrees to the left of the Moon will be Mars. Again, binoculars will be beneficial in sighting all of them.
• 15th – 17th
Plant seedbeds and flower gardens. First two days are good days for transplanting. First two days are also most fruitful days for planting root crops. Last day is most favorable for corn, cotton, okra, beans, peppers, eggplant, and other aboveground crops.
• 18th – 22nd
A most barren period. Kill plant pests and do general farm work.
• 23rd – 24th
Sow grains and forage crops. Plant flowers. Favorable for planting peas, beans, tomatoes, and other fall crops bearing aboveground.