Here's How to Watch the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower This Week

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 - 5:30PM
Astronomy
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 - 5:30PM
Here's How to Watch the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower This Week
Each year, the spectacular Eta Aquarids meteor shower lights up the sky from approximately April 21 to May 20. So the light show is already underway, and will reach its peak in the evening this Thursday, May 5.

The Eta Aquarids is an annual shower associated with Halley's Comet. Although we only see Halley's comet every 75 years, we pass through its tail twice a year, resulting in the Aquarids and Orionids showers. When Earth passes through the tail, pieces of debris collide with our atmosphere and immediately burn up, causing the month-long spectacle.

The shower will technically hit its peak on May 5, but the Eta Aquarids hit a high plateau that lasts all week. You can see the shower from anywhere in the world, although the rates of visible meteors will be significantly lower in northern altitudes. The optimal locations to view the spectacle lie between the equator and 30 degrees latitude, which primarily consists of parts of South Africa, South America, Indonesia, and Australia. 

In those locations, the rates will be up to 30 or 40 meteors per hour, but Northerners will still have plenty to enjoy, as the rates will be approximately 10-20 per hour. They will be most visible before sunrise, when the radiant--which is located in the Aquarius constellation--rises before sunrise. And, as always, it helps to be away from the wash-out effects of city lights, but if you're too busy and/or lazy to get away from the city, you can watch the livestream below starting on May 5 at 8pm, courtesy of Slooh:


Image credit: Colin Legg

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