The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak on Monday night through the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 6.
The Eta Aquarid happens every May as Earth passes through a string of space debris, including dust, rock, and ice, that comes from Halley’s comet. The space dirt flies into our atmosphere and creates a dazzling light show in the sky as it burns up.
The meteor shower gets its name because the dust grains appear to come from the constellation Aquarius. Because Halley’s comet orbits the Sun in the opposite direction as the Earth, the Eta Aquarid meteors enter the atmosphere relatively fast, travelling at about 148,000 miles per hour.
What Are Meteors?
Meteors are particles of dust or rock passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. As a comet orbits the Sun, the nucleus gets heated and gas and dust flow outwards from the center, forming a trail behind the comet. When the orbit of the dust intersects Earth’s orbit, the material enters our planet’s atmosphere and gets burned up.
The Best Way To View
The best way to view the meteor shower is to look at the dark sky after midnight. Find a place away from city and street lights. Get a comfy blanket and lie on your back. Then look toward the constellation Aquarius. The best viewing times will be between midnight and the hour or two before dawn with peak rates occurring between 3 to 5 a.m. your local time, according to NASA.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center predicts that skygazers will be able to see up to 30 meteors per hour in the Northern Hemisphere and 60 meteors per hour in the Southern Hemisphere.
How To Watch Online
If you aren’t able to see the meteor shower in the flesh, NASA will offer a LiveStream of the shower from Huntsville, Alabama, where officials said skies are expected to be clear. You can watch here.
Slooh will also live broadcast the meteor shower, with coverage starting at 9 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 5. An embed is below. The webcast will be accompanied by commentary from Slooh astronomer Bob Berman.
Editor’s note: If you snap any great pictures of the meteor shower, feel free to send them to [email protected] and we’ll publish them here.
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