National News Meteor showers are a triple treat for stargazers

Australian stargazers are being treated to three active meteor showers lighting up the night sky ahead of the expected peak this weekend.

Piscean Austrinids, South Delta Aquariids, and Alpha Capricornids are usually visible in late July and early August.

The Piscis Austrinids shower is expected to peak on Thursday night and the other two on Saturday night.

The Aquariids should have the largest and fastest moving meteors, while the Capricornids are known to produce bright, fiery, slow-moving meteors.

A new moon phase will also arrive on Friday, giving amateur astronomers a better chance of seeing meteors, although light pollution in urban areas from streetlights and buildings may negate the advantage.

Jonti Horner, professor of astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland, told AAP the trio of showers would arrive under favorable conditions.

“It’s a good time this year, we have the new moon and the weekend at the same time,” he said.

Those who want to catch a glimpse of the meteors will not need any special equipment. The naked eye with its wider field of view makes it easier to spot space rocks streaking across the sky, Professor Horner explained.

People should give themselves enough time to let their eyes adjust and not get discouraged if they don’t see meteors right away.

“They’re like buses, you might go for a while without seeing one and then see three in the space of five minutes,” Professor Horner said.

He said the showers could yield glimpses of about 20 meteors per hour.

The best chance of seeing a meteor is expected between 10:00 PM and dawn.

The showers form when Earth’s orbit intersects with space debris and dust that has been orbiting for billions of years, since the planets first formed in our solar system.

While the trio of showers in Australian skies for the rest of the week promises to be a spectacle, Professor Horner said even better meteor events are to come, with December’s Geminid meteor shower rated as the best shower of the year year.

© AAP 2022

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