Look up tonight, for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 5, 2020

This meteor shower is caused by Earth passing through the debris trail left behind by Halley's Comet.

Nevertheless, the shower is still visible in the northern hemisphere, although it may only produce rates of 10 to 30 meteors per hour from the equator northward, according to the AMS.

Meteor showers occur when the earth crosses the orbit of a comet and the debris left in its wake burns up in the atmosphere, about 80 to 90 kilometres above our heads.

Between 15 and 40 shooting stars per hour are predicted during the peak, with the best time to see in the early hours pre-dawn.

Eta Aquarid meteors appear once a year, usually active between April 19 and May 28, and can be spotted up to several days before and after the predicted peak. If you're more into specifics, Time and Date also have a table that shows the direction and altitude of the Eta Aquarids.

The further away from the east coast you are the more meteors you'll see, due to what's called the "radiant point", the part of the sky where the meteors appear to come from. But they move quite quickly - "blink and you'll miss it", Lord warned.

Using binoculars or telescopes to watch the event will, however, limit your field of view along with the number of meteors you will see.

The most meteors will be flying just before dawn on Tuesday (5 May) and Wednesday (6 May).

Even though this is not one of the year's biggest meteor showers in the Northern hemisphere, it will still provide an impressive light show in the night sky. In Wellington, the overnight forecast is mainly cloudy with rain, the same went for Auckland and Christchurch. The streaks of light we see in the sky when this happens are popularly referred to as "shooting stars".

"Sometimes they can light up the whole sky, but just for a few seconds, so it's really surprising".

Halley Comet needs to around 76 years to make a complete revolution around Sun so it can be seen from earth every 76th year where the last time seen from earth was in 1986, while the next time to be seen in 2062.

"Don't step outside and stand there and expect to see meteor activity", he says.

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