Stargazers are in for a treat in May as the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower is all set to take place this month. Although, the celestial event is not as popular as the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs in August, it is quite a spectacle.
The Eta Aquarids take place between April 22 and May 20 and anyone wanting to witness the celestial event can see around 30 meteors per hour.
Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower: When And Where It Will Be Visible
According to Bill Cooke who leads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, this year the celestial event will be at its peak just before dawn on May 6.
The meteors in the Eta Aquarids originate from Eta Aquarii, which is one of the brightest stars in the Aquarius constellation, and also gets its moniker from the same.
Observers in the mid northern latitude would be able to view the event. However, a particularly dark sky with a clear southern horizon would maximize their chances of witnessing the meteor shower.
Miami will get a better view of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower than places like New York and San Francisco. However, people residing in the southern hemisphere will get the best view of all. Stargazers in these regions will be able to witness the meteor's radiant while gazing toward the north at night.
The moon will also not likely play spoilsport this year. The moon's bright light usually causes a hindrance while spotting meteors in the sky. However, this year, by the time the meteor shower is at its peak on the dawn of May 6, the moon would have already set. This will leave a clear sky for stargazers to enjoy the annual meteor show.
How To View The Meteor Shower
Although meteors originate from the radiant, it is better if people avoid focusing on it alone, as they may miss the other meteors across the sky. Cooke recommends that the best way to watch the phenomenon is to lie straight back down and look up at the sky. This will give the viewer the maximum vision field and also prevent neck strain.
Why The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Occurs
The meteor shower is a result of the dust grains that separated from Halley's Comet. These dust particles are only about a millimeter in thickness and, therefore, burn up when it enters the Earth's atmosphere, creating the streak of light visible across the sky.
Although, the Perseid shower brings more meteors per hour when compared to the Eta Aquarids, the meteors in the latter are just as bright as the ones of the former.