The Night Sky Lights Up at Maho!

The Night Sky Lights Up at Maho!

Last week, a brilliant meteor shot across the night sky over Maho Bay.  And some friends had the good sense to immediately check the Maho Bay Friends of the Park webcam to get some imagery of it!  The blurry imagery above is a screen shot of the webcam capture and the video itself is just awesome!  Oh, and you might want to keep an eye on the night sky over the next week as well…This comet was likely the beginnings of one famed meteor shower.  Or the end of a lesser known one…

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Night Sky Over St. John – Fueled By Wanderlust

You might remember Jim Lee, Captain and owner of Sailing Vessel Soulshine, from his gracious sharing of information in the BVI post from a few months back.  Well, last Wednesday, the crew aboard Soulshine witnessed the sky LIGHT UP from their mooring in Maho Bay.  A meteor shot across the sky and Jim had the instinct to go to the Friends of the Park webcam which was on a four minute delay to catch a video of it!  I highly recommend taking a moment to take a peek at the video!

As always, seeing that video made me start thinking about what it was and I started going down rabbit holes and, well, here’s what I found 🙂

This absolutely stellar comet is very likely the tail end of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower.  A lesser known shower than the famed Perseids, the Delta Aquariid lights up the skies of the Southern Hemisphere during late July with the entire shower lasting from about July 18-August 21.  The predicted peak of this year’s performance was July 29.  So just a few days after Jim’s capture of this video on Wednesday, July 27.  According to EarthSky.org, the comets of this shower are generally fainter than those of the Perseids but they are known to leave a persistent train or glowing ionized gas trail behind them after they have passed through the night sky.  Hence my speculation that this particular sighting is a part of the peak of the Delta Aquariid meteor display.  (Disclaimer:  I’m not an astronomer 🙂  This could also be the beginnings of the Perseids Shower.  But I find the information on both of them pretty neat!)

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2007 image from the HI-2 camera of STEREO-A spacecraft. Image- EarthSky.org

The conditions were perfect this past week for a brilliant night sky with great visibility of the stars above.  The moon and the sun are currently on the same schedule so the moon is actually up during the day.  Making the night sky absolutely dark and perfect for star gazing AND comet sightings!  Especially here on St. John.

For those of you who are on St. John right now, I highly encourage keeping a steady eye on the night sky over the next few days.  You just might get a light show yourself.  Maybe a little late night beach or overlook date is in order 🙂

For those of you that will be on St. John over the next few weeks, the Perseids meteor shower is also happening now with the peak on the horizon line.

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Visit timeanddate.com to find out the best viewing times and direction…From where ever you are!

The 2022 Perseids event is predicted for July 14- August 24 and will peak on August 11-12.  However, the full moon is also on the 11th this month and will not set until the wee morning hours here in the Virgin Islands.  According to timeanddate.com, it will set in the West-Southwest at 5:19 AM on the 11th and rise in the East-Southeast at 6:53PM on the same day.  The Perseids shower will be best viewed here in the Virgin Islands by looking to the night skies in the Northeast.  So, the best way to try to catch a glimpse of some of these spectacular shooting stars would likely be from the East End and Coral Bay waaaaayyyyy late at night…after the moon has passed behind the island.  You might be able to catch some glimpses from the North Shore beaches as well.  But optimal viewing will likely occur from the desolate and nearly unpopulated East End, facing the BVI.

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Vacationer Matthew Nicholson caught a Perseid meteor over a palm tree at Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, on August 11, 2013

Happy star viewing everyone!  We plan to head out in search of the comets from a beach or overlook next week…Where will you search for them?

2 thoughts on “The Night Sky Lights Up at Maho!”

  1. To all visitors who enjoy St. John stargazing: St. John is a fine example of how amazing “dark skies” with little light pollution can be. To improve the dark skies here or wherever you live, visit the International Dark-Sky Association, darksky.org, to find out what kinds of lighting fixtures are dark sky friendly (and therefore turtle-friendly too).

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