Rare Delphinid Meteor Shower May Erupt Tomorrow Morning

The Gamma Delphinids meteor shower – if it shows – will appear to radiate from the constellation Delphinus (del-FINE-us) the Dolphin high in the southern sky shortly before dawn tomorrow morning June 11. This map shows the sky facing south at 3:30 a.m. local time. Delphinus is to the east or left of the bottom of the bright 3-star figure the Summer Triangle. Created with Stellarium

June 11, 1930. Three meteor watchers in Maryland were quietly watching the sky when out of nowhere a half-hour-long bright outburst of meteors flared from the little constellation Delphinus the Dolphin. Since that time, observers keen on meteors have watched for an encore without success.

But there might be good news for this all-but-unknown shower. Peter Jenniskins, research scientist with the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center, suggests that the cometary debris responsible for the Gamma Delphinids may return again to ignite a similar outburst tomorrow morning June 11.

The expected time of maximum activity is 4:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 3:30 a.m. Central, 2:30 a.m. Mountain and 1:30 a.m. Pacific and 11:30 p.m. (tonight) Hawaiian. No moon will spoil the view and Delphinus will be high in the southern sky as seen from the Americas. You’ll know you’re seeing a shower meteor if you can trace its path back to Delphinus, a small pattern of stars in the shape of a dolphin near the bottom of the bright Summer Triangle asterism.

The map above shows where the shower will be best visible (bright green-yellow band). Unshaded areas on the map won’t have a view of the shower. The higher the radiant (located in Delphinus), the more potential meteors might be seen. Credit: Geert Barentsen, International Meteor Organization

This is an oddball shower for sure, since no one knows how many meteors might be visible or even its duration – estimates range from one hour to 15 minutes with meteors appearing a minute or two apart.

If you’re in a gambling mood, unfold your reclining lounger and face south an hour before the expected maximum and keep watch. Even if the Gamma Delphinids fail to show you’ll have a fine view of the summer Milky Way. Bring binoculars and enjoy the rich star fields along its length. You’re also guaranteed to see at least a few random or sporadic meteors – typically 5-10 per hour.

Tonight June 10-11 from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. CDT, Dr. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office will take your questions about the Gamma Delphinids via live web chat. He’ll offer viewing tips about the shower and include a live Ustream telescope view of the skies over Huntsville, Ala.

If you spot any Gamma Dels, please send a report to: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net Have video or images? Consider sharing them with the Office’s Flickr group. Any observations could help scientists unravel the shower’s origins and assist in predicting future outbursts.

And don’t forget, tonight (June 10) the newly-hatched crescent moon joins Mercury and Venus at dusk in the northwestern sky.

21 Responses

    1. astrobob

      Colin,
      Unfortunately it appears the shower – if it shows – won’t be visible there since it occurs in daylight.

  1. bill taylor

    Despite the usual Hollywood treatments that suggest Hawaii is another fictional place like Brobdingnag, it in fact does exist, People live there and it’s even a State of the Union! Inclusion of the 50th State on maps such as the Delphinid meteor shower visibility footprint on the world Mercator Projection would be appreciated.

  2. Clóvis Padoan Filho

    Hi!!!

    Thanks for the post!! Here in South Brazil ( Pato Branco, 26.2°S, 52.4°E, elevation 800m), there´s also a chance of seeing something, right? That´s what the map says, but I´v read in another place that only North America would be able to see it.

    And also, do you have any link that can show me a sky map to my location, cause I have never heard aboud the Delphinus Constelation…

    Thanks a lot!!

    Greatings from Brazil!

      1. Clóvis Padoan Filho

        Hey AstroBob, thank you so much!

        Lets hope for good weather, some rain areas are coming from Paraguay…

        Tks!!

    1. astrobob

      Hi Deborah,
      Yes, the peak of the shower will be at 11:30 p.m. your time. Delphinus will be up in your eastern sky at that time. Provided the shower happens, you should see meteors like much of the rest of the U.S.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Jean,
      Chances are excellent provided the meteor shower does its part. You’re right though – find a place with a dark sky.

  3. kathy

    thank you for the map in the first place….it is very helpful..especially for the early birds who will just be waking up!!

  4. BCstargazer

    Hi Bob
    No Delphinids sighted here in Penticton,BC. I thought I’d seen 1 but it turned out to be a bright tumbling piece of space junk. Hopefully, this will turn into 2001 Leonids (that were supposed to show up in 1999). In that case, the wait was well worth the wait! 🙂
    Thanks for publishing the details.

  5. Tim Hutton

    During an hour and 45 mins. of watching I saw 9 random meteors, which I thought was pretty good. One did shoot fast and faint from the dolphins tail, but who knows. Still a nice warm night to be under the stars.

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