This weekend will feature May’s only meteor shower, the Eta Aquarids. At the time of the meteor shower, Earth will be passing through the space debris left behind by Halley’s comet, which is one of the most well-known comets in history.
“The Eta Aquarids are one of two meteor showers sparked by Halley’s Comet,” AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel reported. “The other being the Orionids in October.”
“From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn,” the International Meteor Organization (IMO) said on its website.
Those located south of the equator can see as many as 40 meteors per hour during the peak night. According to AccuWeather, the meteors become more intense and visible as the hours lead up to dawn.
“This shower happens to be one of, if not the best, showers in the Southern Hemisphere and is a moderate shower for the Northern Hemisphere,” Samuhel said.
May’s only meteor shower will coincide with the new moon, which means even the dimmest meteors will be visible in the dark sky because the moonlight won’t be strong enough to wash them out.
AccuWeather reports that the best viewing conditions are expected across the Pacific Northwest, the central Rockies and from Michigan to eastern Texas because those areas won’t have many clouds. Stargazers from Houston to St. Louis and Chicago can enjoy the starry night with many shooting stars, although light pollution from big cities may interrupt the viewing, so you’ll want to find a dark area.
Unfortunately, stargazers across the eastern United States will have difficulties viewing May’s only meteor shower because of a widespread storm and rain in the region, but the weather should improve the next night, and the eastern side of the U.S. can view meteors even one night after the peak.
If you want to see the greatest number of meteors, AccuWeather advises retreating into a dark area where no light pollution is present, lying down on the ground and bringing a blanket to keep warm. You should also get your eyes adjusted to the darkness for 20 to 30 minutes before viewing.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is the last meteor shower until July. The end of July will feature two meteor showers at the same time. The southern Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids will light up the sky July 29-31.