This Spring's Meteor Shower: How to Make the Most Out of it

James Marshall
May 4, 2018

Like the majority of meteor showers, most of the time, the best moment to spot the Eta Aquarids is right before the dawn of the days when it's at its peak. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower can deliver up to 30 meteors for every hour at its pinnacle, Saturday through Monday, May 5-7, however, 10-20 meteors for every hour is all the more likely, according to NASA.

Where and when is going to take place?

The best time to see the Eta Aquarids is just before sunrise on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings.

The meteors appear to originate from (but don't actually come from) Eta Aquarii, one of the brightest stars in the Aquarius constellation. While the rain benefits the sightings from the Southern Hemisphere, the Eta Aquarids is usually a pretty nice spectacle which can generate up to 30 meteors per hour in Northern Hemisphere.

Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed. They are also very fast meteorites, traveling at nearly 148,000 miles per hour into the atmosphere of the Earth, leaving behind glowing "trains" of debris behind, which can last for seconds and even minutes. The trains can be several seconds long or can last even for a few minutes.

The luckiest residents in the US are the ones living in North Carolina and SC who can get to the coast for a good view, said the National Weather Service. Clouds likely will obscure the view for the Carolinas Saturday night before clearing slightly Sunday night. Lie flat on your back with your feet fronting east and look up, covering as much wide sky as feasible.

The meteors are caused by leftover comet debris and shattered asteroids that create a dusty trail while circling the sun.

Comets are made of frozen gas, dust and rock and orbit the sun, according to NASA, and as the comet travels through the sky it leaves a trail of debris behind it.

An image of an Eta Aquarid meteor from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Tullahoma, Tennessee in May, 2013. "Every year the Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky". "Some modeling for this year indicates that meteoroids ejected from Halley's Comet back in 164 BC and 218 AD will intersect Earth's path". The best time to see it will be between 3 and 4 a.m. ET, according to Cooke.

Cooke explained that the meteors are very small "and move too fast to endure the plunge through Earth's atmosphere".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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