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Remains from Halley’s comet to light up the sky this week



Skywatchers can expect an exciting couple of nights when Eta Aquarid’s meteor shower reaches this week. Meteor showers are expected to begin Tuesday and last until Thursday, with most meteors visible Wednesday before dawn, according to EarthSky.org.

The best view will be on the southern hemisphere – and all you have to do is look up.

What are Eta Aquarids?

Eta Aquarid’s meteor shower peaks every year in early May, as the Earth crosses the dirt track from Halley’s Comet (1P / Halley). Orionid’s meteor shower in October also comes from this comet.

The famous Halley̵

7;s Comet is visible from Earth about every 76 years. It was last seen in 1986 and will not be visible again until 2061.

Every year when the Earth collides with the comet’s orbit, evaporating debris comes flying into our atmosphere at as much as 140,000 miles per hour, according to NASA, making the meteors known for their speed. Fast meteors tend to leave glowing dust “trains” behind them and produce magnificent “shooting stars”.

Under normal conditions, the annual meteor shower typically produces about 30 meteors per hour. It is named after its glorious or direction of origin that appears to come from the constellation Aquarius.

The Eta aquariums are one of the best meteor showers of the year for people in the southern hemisphere, because Aquarius is higher in the sky there – but it is also visible in the northern hemisphere.

1037759main-eta.jpg
An image of an Eta Aquarid meteor from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Tullahoma, Tennessee, in May 2013.

NASA


When and where to see Eta Aquarids

The shower is visible in both hemispheres, where the best view takes place just before dawn on Wednesday. It is not necessary to find the radiation point to see it – all you have to do is look up.

Viewing the southern hemisphere is preferable but not necessary. From the northern hemisphere, shooting stars are often seen as “earth grazers”: long meteors that appear to foam the earth’s surface near the horizon.

To see any meteor shower, it is recommended to escape harsh city lights and find an open area. Lie flat on your back with your feet to the east and look up so your eyes can adjust for approx. 30 minutes in the dark.

Be patient and do not forget a blanket!


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