Meteors showers are a sight to behold, even though they typically don’t have a long duration.
Nevertheless, it is every night sky watcher’s dream to see meteors as they streak across the night skies. If you are one of the people who love meteors, then make sure you are out on the nights of May 5 and May 6. On these days, you’ll be able to witness the Eta Aquarids meteor shower.
The Reason Behind The Name
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs as a result of earth passing through dust particles released by Halley’s Comet, or as it is sometimes called, Comet Hally. Halley’s comet only become visible to earth once every seventy five to seventy six years. The last time it was observed was in 1986. Even though the actual comet won’t be visible, the remnants of it will be displayed in the Eta Aquarids.
The Eta Aquarids originates from the Aquarius constellation. During their peaks, those living in the northern hemisphere are likely to only see ten or less Eta Aquarids in an hour. However, for those who live in the southern hemisphere, you could see as many as thirty in one hour.
The History Behind The Name
Lieutenant Colonel G.L.Tupman is the man history has credited with the “discovery” of the Eta Aquarids back in 1870 while sailing through the Mediterranean Sea. On the night of April 30, he plotted 15 meteors. On May 2 and May 3, he plotted 13 meteors each time. Credit was given to Tupman on April 29, 1871 when he successfully plotted 8 meteors, confirming the event’s recurrence.
Tips On Getting The Best Views Of The Eta Aquarids
It is imperative to note that the best time to view the Eta Aquarids is during the early morning hours right before daylight. The closer it is to sunrise, the better your chances of seeing meteorites. During these hours, the earth’s orbital motion is directly in line with the dawn terminator. The effect that this will have on earth is that it will allow earth to scoop up meteoroids on the dawn side.
But there is one major problem with this sighting. This also happens to coincide with the largest full moon of the entire year. This means that the brightness of this moon is sure to cover up all but the brightest of the meteors.
Considering the fact that there is such a broad peak connected to this particular meteor shower, it is quite possible that sky gazers may be able to see a few tray meteors a day or two before and even a day or two after May 5 and 6.