The eta Aquariids meteor showers have arrived, and for budding astronomers, this coming Tuesday, May 5, will see the peak of the annual phenomenon.
The shower is best when viewed from the southern hemisphere, but those of us in the Northern hemisphere can still see part of the show.
From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. Activity is suitable for a week centered around the night of maximum action.
Eta Aquarii, the brightest star in the Aquarius constellation, gives the shower its name. This is because the meteors appear to radiate from this direction.
The Eta Aquarids is one of two meteor showers created by debris from the Comet Halley. If you miss this one, you will have another opportunity to see the shower in October of this year when the Orionid meteor shower will occur.
To get the best views here, you will need to be up in the early hours of the morning to choose a place where you don’t receive the lights of the city. Then you will want to lie flat on your back and look straight up.
That way, you get the broadest view of the sky, and you won’t have to strain your neck. The most active part of the shower is said to be just before dawn on May 5.
The darker the sky, the better chance you have to view the show.