The Eta Aquarids meteor shower peaks this week

James Marshall
May 3, 2020

This year, May brings many delightful events for the stargazers and astronomy aficionados' in the city and across the country with many extraterrestrial events lining up during this period to take your breath away, starting from the Eta Aquarid meteor shower that sparkle the sky over the region for nearly the whole of the month and a few planets having a close encounter with the Moon.

With most people stuck inside, isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, May's celestial events present a much-needed opportunity to connect with nature.

What are the Eta Aquarids?

. It's a meteor shower that is from Halley's Comet debris field.

The Earth experiences a meteor shower when the Earth's orbit coincides with the comet's.

Eta Aquariids are created from the debris left behind by Halley's Comet and happen every year from the middle of April until the end of May. It was last seen in 1986 and won't be visible again until 2061.

Just as seen in case of other meteor showers, when Earth, along its orbit around the Sun, passes through the trail, the debris enter our atmosphere.

Not too long ago, the Lyrids meteor shower lit up a dark night sky and stargazers will be treated to a view of more shooting stars.

The next major meteor shower will be the Perseids in August with over 100 shooting stars per hour at their peak and showing as bright, fast meteors. In fact, Eta Aquarids are one of seven meteor showers that appear to come from the constellation of Aquarius. You will be able to find any meteor shower in the region of their radiant, so the Eta Aquarids will appear around the region of Aquarius constellation in the night sky.

They will be visible over the weekend where a dozen meteorites will be visible per hour but on Tuesday night this will go up to 40 or more per hour during the peak. On May 12, Jupiter, closely followed by Saturn on its tail, will come to its closest point to the Moon and will be visible through the naked eyes on the left side (yours) just below the Earth's natural satellite, slightly over the horizon at 11.30 pm and will grow brighter as it inches upwards, crossing the Moon and ending up slightly above it on the left (still your left) at the break of dawn.

Viewing in the Southern Hemisphere is preferable but not necessary. The Eta Aquarids appear as earthgrazers - long meteors that seemingly skim Earth's surface along the horizon. On May 7, the "Super Flower Moon" arrives just in time for the spring flowers to bloom. It will be the fourth and final supermoon of 2020.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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