Bay Area Meteor Shower: Eta Aquarids Vs. Supermoon

James Marshall
May 5, 2020

The sky will provide a socially distant entertainment activity for stargazers this week: the annual Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. But this week you might want to look to the skies as well - and feast your eyes on a luminous night sky. The name of the meteor shower may sound familiar, coming from the northeastern portion of the constellation, Aquarius. Those who would like to witness the sky event must have a little patience but, they will have the chance to see the Eta Aquariids even without any special equipment, especially in the Southern Hemisphere where the Eta Aquarids are expected to be the best meteor shower of the year. We can expect to see this string of meteors every April/May and then again in October during the Orionid meteor shower.

But the shower won't be as good this year as it was last May, he says, because the moon will be full on Thursday, reducing the visibility of meteors.

"The Eta Acquarids are tiny grains of dust that originated in Halley's comet". Whether you'll be able to see May's full flower moon - so called because it's the time of year flowers start blooming - depends on the weather forecast, of course, but it will appear big and bright for several days.

"You've got the Milky Way spread out over your head and you're looking down towards Jupiter, Saturn and Mars". The streaks of light we see in the sky when this happens are popularly referred to as "shooting stars".

The showers have been visible since April 19, but will peak between May 4 and May 6, when as many as 50 meteors an hour could appear. Produced by debris left behind by the Marsden and Kracht comets, this modest shower produces about 20 meteors an hour from July 12 to August 23. They're only seen on the morning side of Earth, sometimes not clearing the horizon until 2 or 3 a.m.

The shower is named after the faint Eta Aquarii star in the Aquarius Constellation, which acts as its radiant point - the area of the night sky that the meteors appear to emanate from.

Courtesy of the cosmos, Sydney's night sky will be the stage for a spectacular light show this week.

Use your naked eye; binoculars or telescopes tend to limit the field of view.

If you have any sensitive plants, make sure you bring them inside or protect them from the potential frost.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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