One of the busiest meteor showers of the spring, called the Eta Aquarids, is peaking this weekend. To catch the “shooting stars”, simply go outside and look up at the southern night sky.
The Eta Aquarids reached their approximate peak on Friday morning (May 6) and will continue to show a large presence in the coming days, reaching up to 30 meteors per hour. And these meteors are known for their speed, reaching about 148,000 mph (just over 238,000 km/h) when they hit our atmosphere, NASA said.
The shooting stars originate from Halley’s Comet (1P/Halley), a short-period comet that passes through the inner solar system every 75 to 76 years and will return in about 2061. During these visits, the comet leaves its own calling behind. card: a debris trail of dust grains that the Earth traverses each May. Fragments of debris that hit our atmosphere will burn up harmlessly before reaching the ground.
This meteor shower is best seen from the southern hemisphere or near the equator, but meteors can still be glimpsed in the northern hemisphere, said Bill Cooke, who directs NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Flight Center. Space agency in Alabama. .
“It will be interesting to see if rates are low this year, or if we get a spike in numbers before next year’s forecast outburst,” Cooke said in a NASA post on Wednesday (May 3).
For the best view of meteors, go out around 3 am local time, after the moon has set. Although meteors originate in the constellation Aquarius near the celestial equator, it’s best to look at the zenith of the sky (up) so you can see as many meteors as possible.
Pick a safe spot and bring a lawn chair to reduce neck strain. Get away from as many lights as possible and try to get outside at least 20 minutes before you want to go meteor hunting, so your eyes adjust to the dark, according to NASA. If you want to use your phone or a flashlight, apply a red filter or red tape so you don’t ruin your night vision.
Astrophotographers looking to capture meteorites should refer to the beginner’s guide on our sister website, Space.com. If you can, try to practice taking pictures at night before the show reaches its peak, so you have a chance to check your settings and make sure the shots turn out the way you want. Happy hunting!
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Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace.