Aquarid meteor shower peaks tonight

Best time to watch is during pre-dawn hours.
By Laurel Kornfeld | May 05, 2015
The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower, produced by debris once part of Halley's Comet, will peak Tuesday night May 5 into Wednesday morning.

Approximately 10 meteors per hour should be visible to viewers in the northern hemisphere in regions with relatively dark skies.

Meteors can be seen several days before and several days after the peak.

The radiant of the meteor shower is in the constellation Aquarius. The shower gets its name because it originates in the region near the bright star Eta Aquarii.

Notably, meteor showers do not originate from the constellations after which they are named but from the direction of those constellations. The names are a means of helping sky watchers find their region of origin.

The meteors' speed at 148,000 miles per hour into Earth's atmosphere sometimes produces a glowing effect that can linger as long as a few minutes but usually lasts only seconds.

This meteor shower can be viewed from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres in the hours before dawn. Residents of the Southern hemisphere get a better view because the constellation Aquarius, from which the meteors come, is located higher in their sky than it is in the sky of the Northern hemisphere.

Aquarius is located south of the celestial equator, so Southern hemisphere viewers will see more meteors, approximately 30-60 per hour.

For northern hemisphere watchers, the meteors appear as "earthgrazers" because they look like they are flying close to the horizon.

Viewers in the US northeast may be out of luck, as cloudy weather and showers are predicted for Tuesday night.

Those watching in the US southwest and southeast are expected to have clear skies, giving them the best view of the meteor shower.

For ideal viewing, NASA recommends observing where there is little to no interference from street or city lights and lying on one's back with feet facing east.

The website SLOOH is broadcasting the event live at a feed from the Canary Islands.


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