meteor shower
Meteors occur when comet debris enters the earth's atmosphere Getty

The annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower is set to peak at the end of July in a spectacular display across the night sky. Although the chances of spotting a shooting star are limited by moonlight, it is possible to see the meteor shower in areas with low light pollution.

What are the Delta Aquarids?

Active in mid-July until late August, the shower is believed to originate from the comet 96P/Machholz, although this is disputed by some astronomers. This short-period comet, discovered in 1986 by Donald Machholz, orbits the sun about once every five years.

The meteor shower gets its name because their radiant appears to lie in the constellation Aquarius, near one of the constellation's brightest stars, Delta Aquarii. The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is best observed from 28 to 31 July, when the hourly rate can reach 15-20 meteors in a dark sky.

Meteors come from leftover comet particles from broken asteroids. When comets pass around the sun, the dust they emit turns into a trail around their orbits. The Earth passes through these debris trails and the particles collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate and burn up, creating flashes of light across the sky.

The Perseid meteor shower is also active from mid-July but does not peak until 12 to 13 August.

What is the best way to spot the meteor shower?

For the best chance of seeing the meteor shower, find an area with little light pollution where you can set up camp with a sleeping bag, blanket or chair – as you might be in for the long haul.

Nasa advises to lie flat on your back so you have a panoramic view of the night sky. It will take around 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark, which will help you spot the shower.

For astronomers wanting to view the meteor shower indoors, the Slooh Community Observatory will be hosting a live stream online.

perseid meteor shower
A meteor streaks through the sky near Novi Travnik in Bosnia during the Perseids Reuters