Look up for Eta Aquarids Thursday and Friday
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will peak early Thursday and early Friday (May 6-7) before dawn. A new Moon on May 6 will create favorable conditions for observers to see the shower.
The Eta Aquarids is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour.
What’s the best time for viewing?
The best time to see this meteor shower is during the pre-dawn hours. Even though Thursday and Friday are the best viewing options, the shower should also be visible during the pre-dawn hours on Saturday.
The Eta Aquarids is one of the fastest meteor showers. The meteors travel at about 148,000 mph into Earth’s atmosphere and leave glowing “trains” (bits of debris in the wake of the meteor) that last for several seconds to minutes.
“If you blink, you’re not going to see them. They move that fast,” said Bill Cooke, an astronomer with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. The meteors, which are often no bigger than a grain of sand, can pack a punch equivalent to a .357-caliber bullet, according to Dr. Cooke. “That’s why they leave these brilliant streaks in the atmosphere — they have a lot of energy.”
The Eta Aquarid is one of Earth’s two meteor showers that come from the debris trail of the famed Halley’s Comet. The other is the Orionid meteor shower, which occurs each October.