Watch A Meteor Shower Starring Debris From Halley's Comet Tonight

Monday, 05 May 2014 - 12:07PM
Astronomy
Monday, 05 May 2014 - 12:07PM
Watch A Meteor Shower Starring Debris From Halley's Comet Tonight

Stargazers who set their alarms early tomorrow morning will be rewarded with the potential to spot a celestial celebrity, or at least bits of it. Halley's Comet is making its way close to the sun at the moment, and while you may not see the famous space rock itself, a meteor show from its debris is expected to peak in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

 

With almost perfect conditions, those who stay up late tonight or get up early tomorrow will be rewarded with a potentially spectacular show as the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower hits its peak. The shower will be visible from the 5th - 7th of May, but for most people, getting up just before dawn tomorrow will be the most rewarding.

 

The awe-inspiring show is caused by a twice yearly crossing of paths between Earth and the dust trail of the most famous comet in our galaxy. These tiny dust pieces enter our planet's atmosphere at speeds of up to 160,000 mph, creating bright streaks across the night sky.

 

Halley's comet last entered our neighborhood back in 1986 and it's not scheduled for another pass until 2061, so events such as tonight's Eta Aquarid peak are the closest many of us can get to this space A-lister.

 

While the show is set to be more spectacular for Southern Hemisphere observers, those in Northern areas can still expect to see up to 30 meteors an hour. With clear skies expected across much of North America and no moon to interfere with the show, this represents a fantastic opportunity for skywatchers to witness one of the better Eta Aquarid shows in recent years. Northerners who want to watch them should look East and fairly low in the sky an hour or two before dawn, whereas those in the Southern US should fix their eyes a little higher, say around 30 degrees.

 

As always, make sure you take a comfortable and preferably reclining chair with you and ensure you have everything you need to keep the early morning chill at bay.

 

If you live in the city, or you're unable to get out to watch the show, you can tune into SLOOH's live stream of the event up top from 9pm EST.

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