With the Lyrids not long gone, the nighttime sky will now offer another meteor spectacle, the eta Aquariids. This is an annual meteor shower which can usually be seen in between April 21st to May 20th and which peaks around May 6th.
The eta Aquariids meteor shower is named after the Eta Aquarii, a faint star. Its name was chosen as the meteor shower’s radiant is almost aligned with this space body. Both the star and the radiant were traced back to the Aquarius the Water Bearer constellation.
The Aquariids is also associated with Halley’s Comet. This is considered the source of this meteor shower as our planet passes through Halley’s orbital path each year.
The Eta Aquariids Will Be Best Seen This Week
This year will be no different, according to specialists. The meteor shower started being visible on April 19th and should continue being active up until May 28th. According to custom, its 2017 peak will fall on May 5th and 6th. During the dawn of either day, the meteor shower should come with its highest number of meteors. The eta Aquariid’s broad peak should also ensure quite a show on May 7th as well.
“There is no sharp peak for this shower, but rather a plateau of good rates that last approximately one week centered on May 6th,” as pointed out by Robert Lunsford in a statement for the International Meteor Organization.
This is a rather uncommon feature of the Eta Aquariids. Most of the major annual meteor shower have a sharp peak period. Those interested in enjoying this new meteor spectacle should also keep an eye out on the moonset times. Experts recommend watching the Aquariids early in the morning hours, to try and avoid the moon and before the morning twilight.
The eta Aquariid meteor shower can also be best sent in the Southern Hemisphere, as it is also considered one of the area’s “finest” such nighttime events. People living in such areas should expect to see some 20 to 40 meteors each hour. Mid-northern latitude watchers may catch around 10 meteors per hour.
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