Skywatch: Look for the Red Planet and meteors this week

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Sadly, we’re coming starting out the week just coming off of a Full Moon. That means we’ll have more light pollution early in the week. That doesn’t bode well for the Delta Aquariid meteor shower. This shower is active from mid-July until about August 23, but it peaks late in the month of July. This year’s peak is expected early July 29 or 30 but a definite peak for the shower is often hard to pinpoint. While we don’t know exactly what causes it, it’s believed that debris from Comet 96P Machholz is responsible for the shower. The radiant is from the star Delta Aquarii or Skat just below the “Great Square of Pegasus.” Normally, 15 to 25 meteors are visible from this shower but with the bright moon, you’ll only see the brightest streaks. Luckily, this shower will be active for another three weeks so be on the lookout.

Courtesy: NASA

Even though Mars was at opposition last week, it will make its closest pass to Earth since 2003! At 4 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, the red planet will be 35.78 million miles from us.

If you’re up for the event, look for Mars in the southwestern sky below and right of the moon.

The Last Quarter Moon arrives at 2:18 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. That means you’ll be able to see what looks like a half moon on both Friday and Saturday nights. As the moon continues to darken, remember to look for the Delta Aquariids if you’re out early and you’re far away from the bright lights of the city. Happy hunting!