How To Watch the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower When It Peaks This Weekend

Saturday, 05 May 2018 - 2:51PM
Space
Astronomy
Saturday, 05 May 2018 - 2:51PM
How To Watch the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower When It Peaks This Weekend
< >
Wikimedia Commons
While Halley's Comet only appears every 75 years or so, we can see pieces of its debris every spring in a unique form of meteor shower.

This debris, called the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, will be visible through the end of May, but this is the best weekend to get a good look. From most parts of the world, the Eta Aquarids will be at its most visible at dawn on Sunday, May 6, 2018 assuming the skies above you have good visibility, i.e. no clouds or light pollution.

Unfortunately, it may be more difficult than usual to see the meteor shower this year, partly because of some unavoidable light pollution from the Moon. The moon will be a waning gibbous during the shower's peak, and while this won't be as bright as a full moon, it's still bright enough that the meteor shower won't be as rich as it has been in previous years.

However, that doesn't mean it's not worth a look anyways. 



The Eta Aquarid meteor shower gets its name from its radiant - the point in the sky where the meteors seem to originate from - which is near the Eta Aquarii star in the Aquarius constellation. The meteor shower always appears to be flowing out from the "water jar" in Aquarius as a neat little quirk based on their position.

So even with low visibility, your best chance of spotting meteors will come if you know how to identify Aquarius. Even though it's big, none of its stars are very bright, so you'll need to look for the pattern low in the sky, and it is easier to find if you're in the southern hemisphere.

If you're up north, this won't be an especially easy meteor shower to watch this year, unfortunately. Your biggest advantage is that the meteor shower should have anywhere from 10 to 30 meteors per hour just before dawn, which gives you a lot of chances to spot them.




But if you're bummed that Halley's Comet won't be returning in full until 2061, watching pieces of debris that broke off it hundreds of years ago can be a great way to pass the time. And that's exactly what the Eta Aquarids are.
Science
Science News
Space
Astronomy
No