Did you miss seeing the Lyrids meteor shower last month? Luckily, there’s another chance coming up this weekend! Gaze up at the night sky and see the annual Eta Aquariid meteor shower. The meteor sightings will peak this weekend, but will remain active for a few days before and after. So, if it’s cloudy or raining, don’t fret! Just try again the next day.
Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is one of the most beautiful ones in Australia, second only to the December Geminids. The Aquariids are made from the dusty debris of the famous Halley’s Comet. Although the comet takes 76 years to travel around the sun, the Earth crosses Halley’s path twice a year, causing us to see the beautiful Aquariids in May, and the Orionids in October. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is particularly wonderful, because the Earth is travelling right in the middle of Halley’s debris stream, leading to more sightings.
When you look up at meteors, they’ll seem to come from a particular location in the sky, known as a radiant. Meteor showers are named after the constellation that the radiant comes from. In this case, the Eta Aquariids will appear to come from the Aquarius constellation.
A good way to find meteors is to keep an eye out for the radiant. The higher in the sky it is, the more meteors are likely to appear. In this case, you’ll find the radiant in the same direction as Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The radiant should rise in the east, between 1:20am and 2am local time. As the night progresses, the frequency of the meteors should increase.
The Eta Aquariids will peak on the night between Friday May 6 and Saturday May 7, but will still be active for a few nights before and after. There could be as many as 20 meteors an hour!
To see the meteors, try to find a quiet spot, with low light pollution in the wee hours of the morning. Wear warm clothes, get comfortable, and let your eyes to adjust to the darkness for about 30 minutes. Then, look up, stay patient, and enjoy the view!