This week, we’ll be invited to one of the best stargazing events of the spring as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower lights up the skies.
You’ll want to set your alarm for before dawn on Wednesday, May 5, as that’s when the greatest number of meteors, originating from the trail of ice debris and rock particles from Halley’s Comet, will settle at night.
The mornings of May 4 and 6 will also have a decent amount of meteors.
Aquarids are famous for their speed: they rush into Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of around 148,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second), according to POT. These meteors can leave behind glowing light trains, or incandescent bits of debris, that can be seen for seconds or even minutes.
Readers in the Northern Hemisphere can expect around 10 meteors per hour at their peak. In the north, meteors are more likely to be seen as ‘ground scrapers’ – shooting stars with long, bright trails that appear to ‘skim’ the ground as they streak across the sky from just below the horizon.
The moon is quite full this week, so the sky can be quite bright where you are, preventing optimal viewing of the meteors. Still, with a little patience, you should have a great show the next few nights.
Just look east towards the constellation Aquarius, specifically the bright star Eta Aquarii, and maybe get that wide angle lens ready so you can capture the event.
Featured Image: Channone Arif, CC license
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