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Fireworks canceled? Don’t worry, there are plenty of astrological events to see in July instead

From Alpha Capricornids to a partial penumbral eclipse, there is plenty going on this month

The Milky Way was visible, along with a few shooting stars, during the start of the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 10, 2018 near Florissant. Photo by Kenzie Bruce/Special to the Denver Post
The Milky Way was visible, along with a few shooting stars, during the start of the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 10, 2018 near Florissant. Photo by Kenzie Bruce/Special to the Denver Post

If you look up and see fireballs falling out of the sky, there’s no need to worry. The world is fine — or at least the solar system is. They just might be Alpha Capricornids.

This month, the meteors will hit their peak on July 28-29, and they should be visible in Colorado. This shower isn’t known for being particularly strong or fast, but it offers a few bright fireballs.

“You’re basically watching small bits of dust moving very fast burn up in our atmosphere due to friction,” John Keller, the director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in an interview.

Keller added that shooting stars tend to radiate from one part of the sky, and for Alpha Capricornids, they’re falling from the region of Capricorn. In late July, the moon will be about 66% full for decent visibility, weather permitting. Most meteors occur between midnight and dawn. (Are bright fireballs worth the sleep deprivation? Perhaps.)

RELATED: Where to go stargazing in Colorado, from parks to small towns

Coinciding with Alpha Capricornids, Delta Aquarids will peak during the same time period, but those meteor showers won’t be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Too bad, because they’re much faster and more frequent, with four times more meteors than the Alpha Capricornids. Keller said the best place to see these meteors is in the southern tropics, because Aquarius is higher in the sky.

But when most people think of dazzling shooting stars, they’re probably referring to Perseid showers, Keller said, which are known for producing a large number of bright meteors. This year, one of those showers will peak Aug. 11-12 in Colorado. Viewers can expect about 60-70 meteors per hour, making for a memorable show.

“When it comes to meteor showers, the Perseids are always the crowd-pleaser,” Keller said. “They’re kind of the old faithful of meteor showers.”

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And meteors aren’t the only thing going on in our solar system this month. On July 4, the Earth will tilt farther away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, Keller said. In our orbit, we shift about 1.5% closer or farther between July and January.

Also on July 4-5, there’s a partial penumbral eclipse, though it won’t be noticeable to the eye, Keller said. The moon will pass through the shadow of the Earth starting on July 4, but only about a third will end up covered. Astrology aficionados can look forward to a total solar eclipse on Dec. 14 — if they can make their way down to Argentina or Chile for the holidays.

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