Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Best chance for seeing meteors is between midnight and dawn.
By Laurel Kornfeld | May 08, 2018
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, considered spring's best, will peak between May 4 and 7, with meteors visible worldwide.

Although viewing conditions are expected to be better in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in South America, Australia, and parts of Africa, which could see as many as 60 meteors per hour, Northern Hemisphere residents will also be able to see the shower, with between 10 and 30 meteors per hour.

Composed of dust from Halley's Comet, Eta Aquarid meteors enter Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 150,000 miles per hour (240,000 kph) before burning up.

Their radiant, the point in the sky from which they appear, is located in the constellation Aquarius.

Because this constellation stays does not rise above the horizon until the predawn hours, the best time to view the meteor shower is between 3 and 4 AM.

While most meteor showers peak for one or two nights at most, the Eta Aquarids do so for several days. This year, the night of Sunday, May 6 may be the most active.

Some of the darker meteors may be difficult to see due to interference from the waning gibbous Moon. AccuWeather astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel advises viewers to look for meteors in the part of the sky opposite the Moon.

"Let your eyes adjust to the darkness for at least 20 minutes. Do not look at the Moon, and stay off your phone. That will ruin your night vision," he said.

Ideally, the meteor shower should be viewed from a dark sky area far from city lights.

Binoculars and telescopes are not required, as meteor showers are visible to the naked eye.

Observing conditions Friday night and early Saturday morning will be best in the southwest and central US. Clouds are predicted for the East Coast, but there should be enough breaks in those clouds for observers to see at least some meteors.

Similar conditions are expected across the country Saturday night into Sunday morning.



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