Astronomers and stargazers can enjoy the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower that is going to light up the night sky this weekend. This is also the last meteor shower that will streak across the night sky until late July.
Although it is expected for the meteors to be seen from all around the globe, this meteor shower in particular will be more spectacular for the skywatchers that live in the Southern Hemisphere. As Accuweather notes, this year’s Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be one of the best meteor showers for South America, Australia and parts of Africa. It is expected that the night sky in the mentioned areas will have up to 60 meteors in an hour.
Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere shouldn’t feel discouraged. They can still enjoy between 10 and 30 meteors per hour when the shower peaks. Nevertheless, as Dave Samuhel, AccuWeather’s astronomy blogger described, the lower rates in the northern hemisphere don’t mean much, as he expects that the upcoming shower will be more active compared to the Lyrid meteor shower that peaked in late April.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike other meteor shower peaks that last up to one or two days, the Eta Aquarids can last for several days when it’s peaking.
“The Eta Aquarids are sparked by Haley’s comet. This shower has a gradual peek that will span the entire weekend into Monday,” Samuhel explained. “Sunday night may prove to be the most active night.”
This is also good news because people will have an opportunity to watch the shower more times and also catch the wonderful meteors another night in case they couldn’t the previous night for a number of reasons, such as cloud cover or bad weather.
Still, the best viewing times for all the nights that the shower will peak is after midnight. Nevertheless, those who can’t stay awake for a long time can watch some meteors that will be visible later in the evening. As AccuWeather noted, the best viewing conditions will be on Friday night and early Saturday morning for central and southwestern U.S. as the night sky will be free of clouds that could disrupt the viewing.
“Unfortunately, widespread clouds will plague the East Coast this weekend,” Samuhel said. The sky will also likely be covered in clouds for most of the northwestern U.S.
There will be similar night sky conditions in North America during the second day of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The best viewing conditions will likely be available in Indiana, Texas and Southern California.
While no special viewing equipment will be necessary for watching the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, Samuhel suggests going to areas that are free of light pollution so that more meteors can be seen. Also, he suggests picking an area in the sky that is opposite the moon as some darker meteors will be difficult to spot.
“Let your eyes adjust to the darkness for at least 20 minutes. Do not look at the moon and stay off your phone. This will ruin your night vision,” Samuhel said.