In late July and August, the Night Sky offers some of the most spectacular celestial events visible to the unaided eye. These are the Delta Aquarid and Perseid Meteor Showers. The best time to watch the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is early August before the full moon on the 7th. Moonless nights are best for meteor watching, and the best hours are between midnight and dawn.

What are meteors made of?

Meteors, also known as shooting stars, falling stars, and fireballs, are frozen dust and rock debris that make up a comet’s tail. As this debris passes through the earth’s upper atmosphere at 90,000 miles an hour, it burns up.

This fiery ending is visible from the earth's surface as a meteor. Very rarely, the debris does not burn but falls to the earth’s surface in the form of meteorites.

Since comets pass by the earth regularly and leave behind debris from their tails, some meteor showers like the Perseids have become annual events. Delta Aquarid meteors are distinguished by their lingering meteor trains made up of ionized gases. These can be seen for a second or two after the meteor has passed.

It's not clear which comet the Delta Aquarid meteor shower originates from, but the likeliest is Comet 96P Machholz, discovered in 1986. The Perseid meteor shower originates from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is the largest celestial body to pass close to the earth on a regular basis.

How to find the meteor showers

The spot in the night sky where a meteor appears is known as its radiant. Meteor showers are named for the constellation or star in the area of the night sky where their radiants appear. The Delta Aquarids are named for the star Delta Aquarii or Skat in the constellation Aquarius the water bearer.

The Perseids are named for the constellation Perseus.

The Delta Aquarid meteor shower can be seen from July 12 to August 23 each year and peaks in late July. The Perseids last from July 17 to August 24, peaking around August 12. It's not just the moonlight but also city lights that can block out meter showers. An ideal viewing location would be in the countryside or in a park without light pollution.

In August, Aquarius is seen the southern sky, and Perseus rises in the northeast quadrant of the sky around 11 pm.

You don't need a telescope or even binoculars to see the meteor showers. Once you've settled down in your chosen spot, and your eyes have adjusted to the dark, you should be able to see the meteors as they flash across the sky in a fiery ending. If you're lucky, you may even see Delta Aquarid and Perseid meteors cross in the night sky.