The eta aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend, with the light shows expected before sunrise. What's the best way to witness the eta aquarids?

2018 Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Sky watchers just watched the Lyrid meteor shower light up April skies, but this weekend, they may still want to wake up before the sun rises, as the Eta Aquarids are expected to grace the skies all around the world. Though the best time to watch is expected to be in the predawn hours of May 5, the meteor shower's peak is expected to last the entire weekend.

Sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere may expect about 10 to 30 meteors an hour, though clouds may block the sky for some periods. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, sky watchers may be in for a treat as the skies are expected to be clear, and in places like South America, parts of Africa, and Australia, viewers may see up to 60 meteors an hour. In fact, the Southern Hemisphere eta aquarids are expected to be one of the finest showers of the year.

Viewing Tips

The best time to watch the sky for Eta Aquarids is during the early morning hours before the sun begins to rise. It's best to go to a location that is far away from artificial lighting such as street lights or city lights, and in a place where one can see a large patch of sky.

Sky watchers should come prepared with sleeping bags, blankets, and face the sky with their feet facing the east. It could take about 30 minutes before the eyes will adapt to the darkness, but meteors will be visible after the short waiting period.

Eta Aquarids From Halley's Comet

Meteors come from leftover bits and pieces of comets or asteroids that come around the sun. When the Earth passes the dusty trails left by the comets, the debris collide with the Earth's atmosphere and they disintegrate, causing the spectacular light show.

In the case of eta aquarids, they actually originate from comet Halley which sheds a layer of ice and rock when it passes through the inner solar system, while its name comes from the constellation Aquarius. They usually peak in early May of each year, and are considered fast-travelling meteors that leave glowing trains behind them. In the Northern Hemisphere, some meteors are even called "Earth grazers" as they seem to skim so close to the surface of the Earth.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.