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Meteor showers to return as July brings new slate of astronomy events

By Brian Lada, Accuweather.com
In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower in Spruce Knob, W. Va., in 2021. File Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/UPI
In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower in Spruce Knob, W. Va., in 2021. File Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/UPI | License Photo

Warm weather can make July one of the most comfortable times of the year to stargaze, but an uptick in humidity also has an impact on viewing conditions. With more moisture in the air, stars don't appear to twinkle as much as they do during winter's cold, crisp nights.

Skywatchers need not fret, however, as muggy nights won't hinder their views of the upcoming celestial sights throughout July, ranging from the "Thunder Moon" to the first meteor shower in months.

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Summer nights may be short, but they are the best time of the year to gaze upon the heavens and soak in the sights of the Milky Way galaxy.

During July, the part of the Earth that experiences night is facing toward the core of the galaxy, resulting in better views than many other times of the year.

Light pollution can easily outshine the galactic glow, so it is best to look for the Milky Way on the nights surrounding the new moon, which will occur Friday. Additionally, some stargazers may need to travel to a dark area away from bright city lights.

Every full moon throughout the year has multiple nicknames related to changes in nature during the time of year when it rises, and the upcoming lunar event is directly tied to Mother Nature.

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The full "Thunder Moon" will rise on July 21, named after the thunderstorms that frequently rumble across North America during the summer.

Other nicknames for July's full moon include the Buck Moon, Berry Moon, Salmon Moon and Halfway Summer Moon.

Shooting stars will add an extra sparkle to the summer sky as two meteor showers reach a crescendo at the end of the month.

The two-night event will kick off with the peak of the Southern Delta Aquarids on the night of July 29-30, followed by the Alpha Capricornids on the night of July 30-31, according to the American Meteor Society. The dueling meteor showers will combine for around 20 shooting stars per hour, including the chance to see a few incredibly bright fireballs.

The flurry of meteors in the late-July sky will be just a taste of an even more impressive event right around the corner. The Perseids is the most popular meteor shower of the year and will boast as many as 100 meteors per hour when it reaches its peak on the night of Aug. 11-12.

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