how and where to look in Australia

how and where to look in Australia

how and where to look in Australia

After the night sky in Australia was illuminated by a trio of meteor showers – the Piscis Austrinids, the Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capricornids – last weekend, astronomers will be able to see the peak of the 2022 Perseid meteor shower on the 13th. August.

Related: Origin site of the oldest Martian meteorite “Black Beauty” named after the mining town of WA

What are meteor showers?

Meteor showers occur when cosmic debris enters Earth’s atmosphere. The source of this debris often comes from comets, which have long orbits around the sun.

“Like my cat, comets lose fragments,” De Marco said. “These bits practically remain in orbit, so imagine a very elongated orbit filled with small bits.”

When the Earth crosses the path of a comet’s orbit, it encounters this debris. “It’s like when you drive your car through a cloud of bugs – you put them all in your windshield,” said De Marco.

The debris burns as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, causing dazzling spectacles across the sky.

The Southern Delta Aquariids come from Comet 96P / Machholz, while the parent body of the Alpha Capricornids is Comet 169P / NEAT. Astronomers have not yet discovered where the Piscis Austrinidae come from.

A meteor shower gets its name from the constellation closest to the radiant, the point in the sky where the rain appears to be coming from. The radiant of the Southern Delta Aquariids, for example, is close to the star Delta Aquarii, in the constellation Aquarius.

When and where is the best time to see meteor showers?

New Zealand astronomer and director of the Otago Museum, Ian Griffin, said the Piscis Austrinids, Southern Delta Aquariids and Alpha Capricornids showers are easily visible to the naked eye. “You don’t need a telescope to see them, you just need a deck chair and your eyeball,” he said.

Piscis Autrinids: peaks on 28 July

If you are on the east coast of Australia, the Piscis Austrinids will rise around 8pm in the southeast, traveling closer to the east by 11pm, De Marco said. “Look east, about 45 degrees up, about halfway between the horizon and above your head.”

In New Zealand, the best viewing time will be after 10pm.

Southern Delta Aquariids: peaks on July 30th
The southern delta aquarids will be visible around 11 p.m., east-northeast and 45 degrees upward from the horizon, De Marco said. This rain has the fastest meteors of the three that peaked this week. New Zealand will see the shower at around 1am.

Related: ‘Incredible milestone’: NASA launches a rocket from the Australian space center

Alpha Capricornids: peaks on July 30th
Alpha Capricornids are “relatively bright and will have fireballs,” De Marco said. Fireballs are very bright meteors, at least as bright as Venus in the morning or evening sky.

At around 11pm on July 30, rain will be visible in the north-northeast, about 65 degrees from the horizon. New Zealanders can see it around one in the morning.

The Perseid meteor shower dazzles in August
Another ongoing meteor shower is the dazzling Perseids, which is expected to peak on August 13. At its peak, there will be more than 100 meteors per hour, De Marco said.

The radius of this meteor shower is very close to the horizon, he said.

“You will see [meteors] rising from the northern horizon. They will look as if they are going up instead of falling. “

In Australia, the best view will be north at 5am on August 13th.

For people who want to plan their viewing experience in more detail, the open source software Stellarium can model the night sky in 3D.

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