Set your eyes on the night sky this weekend, and you might see about 20 “meteors” from three streams of meteors caused by our planet billowing through the remnants of three separate comets.
The prime time for this is Saturday evening – just before midnight until two hours before sunrise.
However, there are a few more objects orbiting Earth this weekend, including two giant asteroids, and yes, some falling rocket debris.
Here’s what you need to know:
You will collect three meteor showers
Expect about 20 “meteors” per hour Saturday night through Sunday morning as delta-aquaride peaks and (less heavy) alpha capricornid meteor showers gather under a dark, moonless sky.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris left by Comet 96P/Machholz in the inner solar system while the alpha Capricornids come from Comet 169P/NEAT.
There will also be a “meteor” around the Perseid meteor shower, usually the most popular show of the year. It was caused by Comet Swift-Tuttle. However, this year’s peak Perseids meteor showers occur on the night of the full moon, which will make it extremely difficult to see all but the brightest meteors.
So it’s best to avoid the peak night of this year’s Perseid meteor showers, and instead look out this weekend for peak Delta Aquarids – and some extra “superstars” from both Perseids and Alpha Capricorns.
Two asteroids will pass close to Earth
Early Saturday, a 400-foot-wide asteroid called 2016 CZ31 will fly past Earth at a distance of about 3 million miles/2 million kilometers at 1:00 UTC (7 p.m. EDT Friday).
Later on Saturday, at about 7:37 p.m. ET, asteroid 2013 CU83—which has a diameter of about 600 feet—will swing through the Earth-Moon system, although it will reach 4,320,000 miles/6,960 000 km. This is farther than the moon.
A Chinese missile will fall to the ground
Have you heard of the new Chinese space station Tiangong? The second “Wentian” module was launched from the Wenchang space launch site, China on July 24, 2022 on a Chinese Long March 5B rocket. However, that rocket will return to Earth on Saturday – and it’s not clear exactly where it will land.
Aerospace Corporation Center for the Study of Orbital and Return Debris Predict that it will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 18:16 UTC plus or minus five hours.
The 25-ton (23 metric tons) rocket stage, which was launched on July 24, is expected to return to deliver the Wentian lab’s cabin module to China’s unfinished Tiangong space station. Earth On July 30 at 7:24 p.m. ET, take 16 hours or more, according to researchers at The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for the Study of Orbital and Return Debris. However, it is too early to know where it will land. Updates here:
I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.