Stargazers have already enjoyed the Eta Aquarids and Tau Herculid meteor showers in May 2022, but there are other phenomenons about to grace our skies in 2022.
The Delta Aquariids meteor shower will hit its peak on July 30, allowing stargazers to see a steady stream of meteors over several days but at a low rate per hour.
One of the more moderate meteor showers, the Delta Aquariids start off the summer in the northern hemisphere. Although it will be best viewed from the southern hemisphere, those living at mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere will still be able to see the celestial event.
The meteor shower adopted its name from the Aquarius constellation, near the bright star Delta Aquarii, in the night sky from which it appears to be travelling directly outward.
It is recommended that those planning to watch the shower start from around 2am, to increase chances of spotting the meteors, as the radiant of the shower – which lies above the southern horizon – will reach its highest point around 3.30am.
But don’t worry if you miss out on seeing the shower that time, as there are plenty of other opportunities to see the sky full of streaks of light.
Here, we have compiled a complete guide on when, where and how you can see all the meteor showers of 2022.
What exactly is a meteor shower?
A meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the debris stream occupying the orbit of a comet or, in simpler terms, when a number of meteors flash across the sky from roughly the same point.
Meteors are sometimes called shooting stars, although they actually have nothing to do with stars.
Perspective makes meteor showers appear to emanate from a single point in the sky known as the shower radiant. The typical meteor results from a particle – the size of a grain of sand – vaporising in Earth’s atmosphere when it enters at 134,000mph.
Anything larger than a grape will produce a fireball, which is often accompanied by a persistent afterglow known as a meteor train. This is a column of ionised gas slowly fading from view as it loses energy.
Meteor, meteoroid or meteorite?
A meteor is a meteoroid – or a particle broken off an asteroid or comet orbiting the Sun – that burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a “shooting star”.
Meteoroids that reach the Earth’s surface without disintegrating are called meteorites.
Meteors are mostly pieces of comet dust and ice no larger than a grain of rice. Meteorites are principally rocks broken off asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and weigh as much as 60 tonnes.
They can be “stony”, made up of minerals rich in silicon and oxygen, “iron”, consisting mainly of iron and nickel, or “stony-iron”, a combination of the two.
Scientists think about 1,000 tons to more than 10,000 tons of material from meteors falls on Earth each day, but it’s mostly dust-like grains, according to NASA, and they pose no threat to Earth.
There are only two recorded incidents of an injury caused by a meteorite. One of these instances saw a woman bruised by a meteorite, weighing eight pounds, after it fell through her roof in 1954.
Meteor showers in 2022
Perseid meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower will hit its peak between August 12 and 13 in 2022, allowing stargazers to witness around 160 and 200 meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere every single hour.
The shower is particularly prominent in the Northern Hemisphere, in the pre-dawn hours, and is one of the most popular showers, as though it is not the strongest, its spectators can enjoy it during summer.
During its peak, the Perseids sparkle in the summer sky, when the Earth collides with particles of debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle Comet.
In 2021, the Moon was only 13 per cent full and set as the meteors began to appear – allowing viewers to see around 50 to 75 meteors per hour on its optimum night.
The shower found its name from the Greek word, Perseidai, meaning the sons of Perseus in Greek mythology, which refers to the point in which they appear to hail.
Draconid meteor shower
Also known as the Giacobinids, the Draconids belong to periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere (though it is still possible to see them in the Southern Hemisphere).
The shower tends to be less active than others and is known to be a sleeper. It is uncommon to see more than five meteors per hour. However, the Draconid’s unpredictable nature was seen in both 1933 and 1946, when stargazers enjoyed thousands of meteors in only one hour.
In 2022, the shower will hit its peak between October 8 and 9 but unfavourable weather conditions, including cloud and fog, have often overshadowed the view for spectators in previous years.