Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Now Peaking: How to Watch the Show

In case you missed last month’s Lyrid meteor shower, Earth is now drifting through another plume of cometary echoes prepared to put on an impressive show in the night sky. The Eta Aquarids occur each year around this time, when dust particles and other debris left behind by Halley’s Comet impact Earth’s atmosphere and streak across the sky as they become extinct.

The famous space snowball whips around the sun and through the inner solar system every 76 years, leaving a new shipment of dust in its wake. All of this cosmic debris has accumulated over the centuries, creating a cloud so significant that the peak of this meteor shower seems to last for days.

Officially, the American Meteor Society expects the shower to peak Thursday night through Friday morning, but the shower’s broad peak means the following night is likely to be just as exciting. Even after this weekend, you can still catch a handful of meteors per hour through May 10, provided you’re in a location with ideal viewing conditions.

There are some benefits to leaving earlier in the week as the waxing moon grows larger and brighter with each evening. This extra brightness may wash out some fainter shooting stars. However, the best time to see the spectacle is actually the few hours before sunrise when the moon is supposed to set.

This shower may also favor the southern hemisphere over the north, but it’s still worth a late check up no matter where you are. North of the equator you can see 10 to 20 meteors per hour under clear, dark skies, but in the southern tropics that potential increases to as much as 60 per hour.

The Eta Aquarids appear to emanate from the area of ​​the sky occupied by the constellation Aquarius, and more specifically the star Eta Aquarii. If you can locate this star in the sky, it can be helpful to orient yourself to it in the center of your field of view when observing the sky.

However, the most important thing when hunting shooting stars is to get as far away from light pollution as possible and choose a location with a wide view of the clear night sky.

Dress for the weather, bring refreshments, give your eyes 15 minutes to adjust, and spend at least an hour watching the majestic cosmos pass by, punctuated by the occasional streak of a space particle ceasing to close exist. Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Now Peaking: How to Watch the Show

Chris Barrese

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