Eta Aquariids meteor shower: What is it? How and where to watch it?
This season is referred to by astrology enthusiasts as the best time to watch out for the Eta Aquariids meteor shower. The Halley’s Comet – which last zipped by the earth in 1986 and will next show up in 2062 – is the source of the meteor shower. This year sees more clear skies and diminished pollution due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it is the best time to see it from home.
The Eta Aquarids are active every year between mid-April and the end of May. Even though the Eta Aquariids meteor shower favors the Southern Hemisphere, cosmologists despite everything anticipate that many shooting stars should crisscross the night skies. The Eta Aquariids meteor shower will peak this week when Earth cuts over the orbital path of Halley’s Comet.
The meteors are known for their speed and travel at around 148,000 mph (66 km/s) into Earth’s atmosphere. Such meteors leave glowing “trains” which stay visible for a few seconds or minutes. For the Eta Aquariids, 30 meteors can be seen every hour during their peak.
While the Eta Aquariids can be seen from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres during pre-dawn hours, the Southern hemisphere is best for viewing the meteor shower as the constellation of Aquarius – home to the radiant (where they appear to rise out of) of the Eta Aquariids – is higher up in the sky in the Southern hemisphere than the Northern hemisphere.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Eta Aquarid meteors can all the more frequently be viewed as “earth grazers.” Earth grazers are long meteors that seem to skim the surface of the Earth at the horizon.
What is the Eta Aquariids meteor shower?
The Eta Aquariids are bits and pieces of space rock that have severed from Comet 1P/Halley.
As the renowned comet races around the Sun, its rocky body crumbles under the star’s intense warmth. The debris is then left floating in the space rock’s path.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London stated: “As the Earth orbits the Sun at this time of the year it plows into the debris left by comet Halley to produce the Eta Aquariids meteor shower – and later in the year, the Earth will once again plow into the same trail of debris left by comet Halley and will produce the Orionids meteor shower in October.”
The Eta Aquariids seem to enter our skies from the constellation Aquarius, subsequently their name.
The shower creates up to 50 meteors an hour however in mid-northern latitudes, the hourly rate may drop to around 10 shooting stars 60 minutes.
When would you be able to see them?
For 2020, the forecast proposes the best number of Eta Aquariids meteor shower will fall before dawn on (or close) May 5 – the day before or the day after may introduce similarly the many meteors. In any case, the nearly full waxing gibbous moon will block the show during the expected peak mornings during the current year’s meteor shower. Consequently, it may be smarter to see the shower before the peak, with no moon to destroy the show.
The best time to watch these fast meteors is during early morning hours, before the beginning of morning twilight. On May 1, 2, and 3, the moon will set in the early hours after midnight, accommodating for moon-free viewing of the pre-dawn sky on nowadays.
How to watch the Eta Aquariids meteor shower this week
The Eta Aquariids will peak this week the night of Tuesday, May 5, through to Wednesday, May 6.
Meteor showers are ordinarily best observed after midnight and before dawn when the skies are darkest.
In any case, Aquarius won’t ascend over the eastern skyline until the small morning hours.
Thus, the Royal Observatory proposes the shower will be best observed at about 3.30 am.
In any case, there is a catch – a bright Waxing Gibbous Moon takes steps to clean out the sky.
The Full Moon will peak on Thursday, May 7, and will be very bright all week.
The Observatory stated: “With a peak rate of roughly 50 to 60 meteors you may be able to spot a few but the light of the Waxing Gibbous Moon in the southwest will likely hinder your view.
“Nevertheless, if you can find a clear view of the eastern horizon, scan the skies in that area using just your eyes – they’re the best tool for the task.”
Since you realize when to search for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, what different tips would it be a good idea for you to know about?
Meteor showers are best observed in complete darkness and distant from sources of light pollution.
Sadly, with the coronavirus lockdown set up, you are exceptionally constrained in where you can watch the shower this year.
A private garden with an unobstructed perspective on the eastern sky is your best option at getting a shooting star.
The Observatory stated: “Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while.
“They can be seen with the naked eye so there’s no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.”
Astronomer Bruce McClure of EarthSky suggests individuals search for meteors with different individuals from their families.
He stated: “Watch with a friend of friends, and try facing in different directions so that if someone sees a meteor, that person can call out ‘Meteor!’ to the rest.”
The shooting stars will enter the atmosphere at speeds of up to 70km every second or 156,586mph.
Make sure to dress suitably on the off chance that you watch the shower from your backyard.
Read More: Lyrids 2020: What is the Lyrid meteor shower? How to watch it online?
How to get ready for viewing the Eta Aquariids meteor shower?
Those keen on viewing the Eta Aquariids meteor shower from the security of their terrace or another protected, separated area, should pay special mind to a clear sky and keep their stargazing applications prepared. Discover a spot unmarred by city lights and the watcher needs to guarantee to get to the venue at least 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time to give time for their eyes to conform to the dark.
Meteor watching can be a waiting game, so the watcher needs to guarantee they are comfortable – dress for the climate and bring a blanket or a comfortable seat to make the standing by more comfortable.
The watcher needs to look in the direction of the radiant – for the Eta Aquarids, it is the Aquarius constellation – in any case, it isn’t essential as the meteors fly all over the sky. NASA likewise has a helpful application that will permit beginner stargazers to find Eta Aquariids meteor shower action in their area for a given date.
How to prepare
The most ideal approach to see an Eta Aquariids meteor shower is to get to a location that has a clear view of the whole night sky. In a perfect world, that would be someplace with dark skies, away from city lights and traffic. To boost your odds of getting the show, search for a spot that offers a wide, unobstructed view.
Odds and pieces of meteor showers are visible for a specific timeframe, yet they truly peak noticeably from dusk to dawn on a given barely any days. Those days are the point at which Earth’s orbit crosses through the thickest part of the cosmic stream. Meteor showers can differ in their peak times, with some arriving at their maximums for just a few hours and others for a few nights. The showers will, in general, be generally visible after midnight and before dawn.
It is ideal to use your naked eye to detect an Eta Aquariids meteor shower. Binoculars or telescopes tend to limit your field of view. You may need to go through about thirty minutes in the dark to let your eyes become accustomed to the diminished light. Stargazers ought to be cautioned that moonlight and the climate can obscure the shows. In any case, if that occurs, there are generally meteor live streams like the ones hosted by NASA and by Slooh.