Early tomorrow morning these meteors will be visible from Earth, when the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower reaches its peak activity. Each time that the Earth passes through one of the old comet trails, the pieces of ice and rock burn up in our atmosphere, causing a meteor shower. Although the Earth has been in the debris field for about the past week, we will be passing through the section of densest debris tonight, writes Evan Dashevsky for PC Mag.
Optimizing your meteor shower experience
The Eta Aquarids are so-called because it appears that they originate in the star Eta Aquarii, which is part of the constellation of Aquarius. If you are currently located in the northern hemisphere, look to the south to spot the constellation. Those situated near the equator should look overhead and residents of the southern hemisphere need to look to the northern sky. For more accurate location information, look on timeanddate.com.
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Wherever you are in the world, the Aquarid meteors will be most visible just before dawn, or between 2-5 a.m, depending on when the sun rises in your area. To optimize your view of the meteor shower, get out into the countryside away from cities and other sources of light pollution.
Even if other variables are in your favor, local cloud cover will obscure your view. If you are unfortunate enough to find your view blocked for any reason, log on to Slooh, which will be providing a multi-location stream which starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Get up early to watch the show
Halley’s Comet has also left another field of debris known as the Orionids, which causes a larger meteor shower than the Aquarids. The Orionids are usually visible around the middle of October each year. Halley’s regularly leaves new debris trails, but none of its last few flybys have been close enough to Earth’s path to cause meteor showers, although changes in the debris field and the Earth’s orbit may mean that they do eventually cause other meteor showers.
Don’t wait until October to see the meteor shower, with this guide you have every piece of information you need to be able to enjoy the event.