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MILWAUKEE, WI — Skywatchers are in for a treat tonight: Not one, but two meteor showers will peak over the skies of Wisconsin on Monday, July 29.
This double meteor shower will result in 20 to 25 meteors per hour visible through the early-morning hours Tuesday, July 30.
The best viewing times are after midnight and before dawn.
If you live in the Metro Milwaukee area, or you’re simply in the area, the National Weather Servies says that you’ll have mostly clear to clear skies from 9 p.m. until about 4 a.m. After 4 a.m. Tuesday, clouds are expected to roll in.
As for the weather, expect temperatures in the mid-70s until about 2 a.m. when temperatures dip into the mid-60s with some light wind. If you’re used to sweltering temperatures, you might want to bring a long-sleeve shirt just in case you get a little chilly.
Dueling Meteor Showers
The showers overlapping Monday are the the southern Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids.
The Delta Aquarids officially started July 12 and run through Aug. 23. They’ll peak July 29 to 30 and will produce around 10 to 20 meteors an hour.
The alpha Capricornids are active through August 11 with maximum activity occurring during the last week of July, according to the American Meteor Society.
According to the National Weather Service, the weather should be favorable for sky watching. Expect partly cloudy skies with lows in the 70s.
Tips on how to watch: Find a dark, open sky. Be patient. It’ll take your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness, and set aside at least an hour to view them. They can come in spurts, and there can be a lull between shooting stars. Bring along a blanket or reclining lawn chair and settle in to enjoy the show.
But if you can’t stay up late tonight, the Perseid meteor showers will be at its most visible in mid-August
The Perseids, which began July 17 and last through Aug. 24, will likely produce about 10-15 visible meteors per hour because the moon will be very close to full during the peak dates, from around Aug. 11-13.
Earthsky advises those who are serious about seeing meteors not to be daunted. Instead, start watching for the Perseids in the pre-dawn hours from Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11. On those dates, there will be more moon-free viewing time than during the peak dates.
In years without moonlight, the Perseids are visible at much higher rates, and in outburst years, such as 2016, they can fly at a rate of 150-200 meteors an hour.
“Unfortunately, the moon will be very close to full on the night of the peak, which will wash out the fainter Perseids,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.
Still, don’t skip this summertime favorite.
“The Perseids are rich in fireballs, so you’ll still see Perseids,” Cooke said. “You just won’t see the show you’ve seen on nights when the moon has not been around.”
And though the meteor shower is most visible after midnight, skywatchers may see a sprinkling of meteors from mid-to-late evening. A rare earthgrazer — a long, slow, colorful meteor along the horizon — is also possible during the evening. Earthsky said Perseid earthgrazers occur before midnight because the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.
The Delta Aquarids, when traced backward, appear to radiate from a point in front of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer, which arcs across the southern sky in North America.
The radiant point for the Delta Aquarids nearly aligns with the star Skat (Delta Aquarii), for which the shower is named.
— With reporting by Patch National Editor Beth Dalbey
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