Aquariid Southern Delta Meteor Shower: How to Watch the Spectacular Celestial Event Tonight

Skywatchers are in for a treat as the spectacular Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks in activity over the next day or so.

The shower—which lasts from July 12 to August 23—is best seen from the southern tropics. It is visible in some parts of the northern hemisphere up until the medium latitudes, although the rate of shooting stars will appear less from these areas, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

Thankfully, the moon will be just 6 percent full tonight. This means relatively dark skies that will provide favorable viewing conditions—local weather permitting.

To have the best chance of catching a glimpse of the meteors, it is advisable to go somewhere far from city lights, preferably somewhere where buildings, terrain or vegetation don't block your view. In particular, you'll want to find a spot with a clear sight of the southern horizon because this is where the meteors will appear to be originating—or radiating—from, Thrillist reported.

The meteors of the Aquariid shower—which travel at around 93,000 miles per hour—are usually faint and lack both persistent trains and fireballs, according to the AMS. In prime conditions, the shower produces up to 20 meteors per hour.

The best time for viewing the shower is after midnight and before dawn wherever you are in the world, according to EarthSky.

Meteor showers are celestial events in which several meteors can be seen in the night sky appearing to originate from a single point. This happens when the Earth passes through streams of cosmic debris.

Meteors, colloquially known as "shooting stars," are the streaks of light that we see when small pieces of debris from comets or asteroids enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up at high speed. Before these small pieces enter the atmosphere, they are known as "meteoroids," according to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

Most of the time meteoroids burn up before they reach the ground, but if one manages to reach the planet's surface it is known as a meteorite.

Scientists don't know for sure from what parent body the Aquariid shower originates, but the leading hypothesis suggests that the phenomenon may occur when the Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet 9P Machholz—which was discovered in 1986—EarthSky reported.

As comets like these approach the sun, they are heated, releasing a trail of debris that produces meteoroids.

meteor, shooting star
This photo taken late December 14, 2018 with a long time exposure shows a meteor streaking through the night sky over Myanmar during the Geminid meteor shower seen from Wundwin township near Mandalay city. YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images