Two meteor showers tonight, but clouds will block the view (as usual) in central Ohio

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Late Monday night into early Tuesday morning, two meteor showers will converge–though we will be unable to see meteors in central Ohio due to cloud cover.

As meteor showers go, these dual events are not a big deal in the Northern Hemisphere. But in rural areas under a perfectly clear sky, a handful of meteors to perhaps a dozen could be visible tonight.

The Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids peak Monday night, July 29, into the early morning hours of July 30, against an ideal backdrop, with virtually no moonlight.

The best viewing time for meteor showers is from around midnight until a little before dawn, if you have a clear sky, without bothersome ambient light. Just sit back and focus on the sky to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark of night.

Don Stevens, Director of Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, pointed out that “there will be several meteor shows active in the nighttime skies” ongoing during the last few days of July.

“Almost all of these are very minor meteor showers with a rate of only a couple of meteors an hour, and very few of them are well know to anyone but meteor shower enthusiasts,” Stevens said.

“In fact, there are usually many small meteor showers going on all the time. If you go out somewhere rural with clear, dark skies on any given night (with no or little moon) you can see meteors. Many of them tend to be what we call sporadics. They are just random bits of space crud that burn up in our atmosphere,” Stevens added.

The next best meteor shower is coming up on Aug. 12-13. The Perseids, unfortunately, will peak around the time of a full moon, which partially washes out the view. Sporadic meteors can be seen in early and mid-August, too.

Stevens said, “Most meteors are the size of grains of sand or small pebbles. They are moving very fast though, tens of thousands of miles per hour, when they hit the atmosphere! That creates a lot of friction with the air, heating and ionizing it. That is what makes all that light and burns most of them up before they hit the ground. Only the largest meteors make it to the ground. We call those that hit the ground meteorites.”

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