When to Watch the Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower Peak

On any given night, far from bright city lights, there’s a chance that you’ll see a beautiful streak shoot across the sky as a meteor flies overhead. But on special dates scattered throughout the year, skywatchers can catch a multitude of flares as meteor showers burst in the darkness.

Meteor showers occur when our planet runs into the debris fields left behind by icy comets or rocky asteroids going around the sun. These small particles burn up in the atmosphere, leading to blazing trails of light. The regularity of orbital mechanics means that any given meteor shower happens at roughly the same time each year, with the changing phases of the bright moon being the main variable affecting their visibility.

The next event is the Eta Aquariids, one of two showers resulting from the debris field of Halley’s comet (the other is the Orionids in October). Debris will enter over Earth’s Equator, meaning it will be visible in both hemispheres all over the world. In past years, the Eta Aquariids have produced 45 to 85 meteors per hour in dark sky conditions.

Unfortunately, the peak for this shower coincides with a full moon on Friday, May 5, into Saturday, May 6, limiting visibility. But the shower should be highly active for roughly a week before and after that date.

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