NASA has announced that the Eta Aquarid meteor shower reaches its peak on Saturday, lasting until Monday (5 – 7 May). In that period of time, the meteor shower gets to up to 30 meteors per hour, but the more likely estimate, according to NASA, is 10-20 meteors in an hour.
Unfortunately for the Northerners, the shower can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, up to Carolinas. A good time to see the Eta Aquarids is before sunrise on all three days, starting with tomorrow, 5 May.
The Northern Hemisphere can also see Eta Aquarid meteors, but they are close to the horizon. They’re called ‘earthgrazers’ because they seem to skim the surface of the Earth. They are also very fast meteorites, traveling at almost 148,000 mph into the atmosphere of the Earth, leaving behind glowing ‘trains’ of debris behind, which can last for seconds and even minutes.
The luckiest residents in the USA are the ones living in North Carolina and South Carolina who can get to the coast for a good view, said the National Weather Service. Unfortunately, on Saturday night, the skies will be cloudy, but they will clear on Sunday night.
Prepare To Spot Some Meteorites
Bill Cooke, with the NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, advises people to find a place away from city lights, get ready for a night outside with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. The feet should face east and then, with patience, look up to catch some meteorites. After almost 30 minutes in the dark, the eyes will adapt and meteors will be easy to spot.
NASA explains how we get meteor showers each year: “When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them.” Every year, we pass through the debris and they collide with our atmosphere, disintegrating and creating streaks in the sky.
The origin of the meteors is from Eta Aquarii, a bright star in the Aquarius constellation. The debris actually comes from Halley’s Comet that visits our inner solar system and leaves behind rocks. Halley’s Comet orbits our sun once every 76 years, so it will come back in 2061 (last time was seen in 1986)
Cooke explained that the meteors are very small “and move too fast to endure the plunge through Earth’s atmosphere.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.