Every May, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower provides onlookers with a chance to glimpse shooting light streaks against the star-dotted expanse above. The Southern Hemisphere usually provides the best regions from where to see the shower, but people in the Northern Hemisphere are sometimes lucky enough to catch sight of a meteor.
“This year the Eta Aquarids will peak during the daylight hours of (May 5th) across the United States,” according to NASA. “Slightly higher rates are likely overnight May 4-5 than on May 5-6 but the shower’s broad peak means that both nights will have meteors. Some Eta Aquarid meteors may be visible for a few days before and after the peak.”
The meteors originate from the famed Halley’s Comet, which last flew by Earth in 1986. The Orionids, another meteor shower that originates form Halley’s Comet, occurs every October, according to Space.com.
These meteors are ripping through space, traveling around 148,000 mph when they hit Earth’s atmosphere. At the Eta Aquarids peak, up to 30 meteors may be visible, according to NASA. However, the Northern Hemisphere has a rate of 10 meteors per hour.
Though Halley’s Comet takes about 76 years to orbit the sun, each time it returns to the inner solar it sheds some of its nucleus. The resulting debris form the Eta Aquarids and Orionids. On its current trajectory, Halley’s Comet isn’t poised to reenter the inner solar system until 2061.
If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the meteor shower, NASA has some tips.
“Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible,” the agency advises. “After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.”
After that, all that’s needed is patience.
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