On May 5, 2020, skywatchers can expect a dazzling meteor shower to light up the night sky. As remnants from well-known Halley’s Comet make their return, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak at 2 AM. With many growing tired of staying inside, the warm weather invites a well-deserved night out.
Where do the Eta Aquarids come from?
The Eta Aquarids originate from 1P Halley (Halley’s comet), which is visible every 76 years. When Earth collides with the comet’s orbit, fast meteors tend to leave trains of glowing dust behind. These meteors average a speed of 148,000 mph. This is how we get to see a shower of meteorites on Earth.
Fun fact: Halley’s comet is the only known comet to be visible with the naked eye. Some are lucky enough to see it twice in their lifetime. The last time Halley’s comet was seen was in 1986. It won’t be visible again until 2061.
This shower is active from April 19-May 28. While tonight’s peak offers a range of 10-20 meteorites per hour, if you miss the show, you will still be able to appreciate it’s beauty throughout the month.
Look to the constellation Aquarius to see the shower as this is where they will originate from. If you are not familiar with where the constellation resides, you can use SkyView (a phone application) to guide your gaze. Just remember to put it away so your eyes can adjust.
It’s also worth noting, the moon will be full on May 7 which can interfere with the darkness needed to fully see the glowing particles. Be sure to give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark sky and prepare with a blanket or sleeping bag.
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