If you’re one of the many people who got into stargazing and backyard astronomy during the pandemic, you’ve probably noticed that there hasn’t been a lot going on in the night sky as of late. All the usual suspects—the stars, the planets, the moon—are content to just hang around in space, and it’s been a while since we’ve had a good-old-fashioned meteor shower.
That’s not to say there haven’t been any meteors shooting through the summer sky: As our own Sam Blum covered previously, the Perseid meteor shower started earlier this month, but it doesn’t peak until August 11–13. But on the night of July 28—that’s tomorrow—two different meteor showers, the Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capracornids, will peak at the same time. Here’s how, where, and when to look up and catch the show.
How to view the Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capracornids meteor showers
The Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capracornids each have their own strengths, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). On the one hand, the Southern Delta Aquariids produces more meteors during their shower, but they’re usually faint, and lacking in both persistent trains and fireballs. The Alpha Capracornids, on the other hand, rarely produce more than five meteors each hour, but the ones that do appear tend to be bright fireballs.
On the night of the July 28, the moon will be 74% full, which is not ideal for viewing meteor showers, but doesn’t make it impossible, either. Although the Southern Delta Aquariids will be best seen in the southern tropics, they’ll be visible anywhere in the northern hemisphere where “the radiant is located lower in the southern sky,” according to the AMS, which adds that the Alpha Capracornids can typically be seen equally well by those on either side of the equator.
As far as when to head outside, you’ll definitely want to wait until it’s fully dark (the time that happens will vary depending on your location). Like most celestial events, the darker the sky is, the better your chances of seeing something are. Both showers will continue through the night, and according to Griffith Observatory, will hit the peak of their peak just before dawn.
No fancy equipment is needed to see these meteor showers. “You can experience the magic of the nighttime without any equipment,” Jackie Faherty, a Hubble fellow at the Carnegie Institute for Science’s Earth and Planets Laboratory, told Prevention, adding that it’s important to head out 15 to 20 minutes early to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness, and nothing that looking at your phone while you wait will ruin your night vision.