Published: Wed, July 01, 2020
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Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower

Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower

The peak of the Eta Aquariid shower this year is due between 2am and 5am on the morning of May 6, when you'll be able to see as many as 50 meteors an hour. The Eta Aquariids are known for their speed, topping 150,000 miles per hour as the meteors impact Earth's atmosphere, which results in spectacular shooting stars.

"At the peak, I've seen estimates of 30 [to] 60 shooting stars an hour, although a lot of those are likely to be fainter and so hard to see with the moonlight", she said. On average, you can see up to 20-40 meteors per hour.

Horner says it takes the Earth about a month to go through the path of the dust trail, but early on Wednesday we will travel through the densest part.

"Don't step outside and stand there and expect to see meteor activity", he says.

"After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors". The dust particles are burning up about 80km from the Earth's surface.

Comet Halley is now out around the orbit of Neptune and nearly at its farthest distance away from the Earth before making a turn and heading back in our direction.

As the comet "slingshots" around the sun and Earth passes through its debris, the rocky fragments burn up in our atmosphere and appear as "bright streaks of light in the sky".

Halley is a well-known comet that can be viewed from Earth approximately every 76 years. It was last seen in 1986 and won't be visible again until 2061. The comet itself formed at the same time as the solar system, about 4,500m years ago.

"The Eta Aquarids are one of two meteor showers sparked by Halley's comet". So, that's what you'll be looking for in the sky.

Con Stoitsis, the director of the society's comet and meteor section, said his colleague Michael discovered the comet while studying images from an instrument aboard the Soho satellite, launched in 1995.

While there might not be a whole lot going on in our social lives right now, this new activity is the ideal excuse to snuggle up and stay up late in your own backyard! But don't bother bring binoculars or a telescope - the naked eye is king.

"Our best chance will be in the hours just before dawn, facing the eastern sky". Trees and buildings will block some of the skies from view, limiting the number of meteors you'll be able to see.

This week, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which occurs annually between April 19 and May 28, brightens our skies and is one of the highlights of the year for seasoned sky watchers.

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