Eta Aquarids meteor shower set for pre-dawn show

The Eta Aquarids – a meteor shower associated with Halley’s comet – will peak on tomorrow, 5 May and 6 May.

The dust cast off by the comet continues through space, following a similar path to the comet itself, as the Conversation website explains.

Twice a year, once in May and then in October, the Earth runs into this debris and sparks a meteor shower.

The shower in May, the Eta Aquarids, is actually the most impressive, as Earth passes closer to the centre of the debris swathe left by the comet. This means that the shower provides more meteors per hour, as we run through thicker dust. Unfortunately, it is hard to see, and is only really visible for a couple of hours before dawn.
The October Orionids, by contrast, are visible from around midnight onwards, and can still put on a spectacular show!

The Eta Aquarids are a light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. This year, a waning gibbous Moon, just off full, will make it even harder for observers to see it.

The Eta Aquarids seem to radiate from the direction of the constellation Aquarius and the shower is named after the brightest star of the constellation, Eta Aquarii.

It can be seen from anywhere in the world.

Halley’s comet takes around 76 years to make a complete revolution around the Sun. It will next be visible from Earth in 2061.

NASA has more information here.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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