In late April and early May, scientists claim the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will illuminate the sky all over the world, dazzling any onlookers with up to 50 meteors passing through the sky per hour. The show is actually a result of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet.
According to experts each spring, the Earth passes through the debris trail from Halley’s Comet; one of the most famous comets in history. As bits of ice and rock enter into our atmosphere from the comet itself, they burn up into meteors, and light up the sky in what we view as a multitude of shooting stars.
The Earth passes through the trail of Halley’s Comet twice a year, this marks the first for 2021 and the second crossing will occur this fall and create what is known as the Orionid meteor shower. During this specific shower, however, scientists claim that the shooting stars seem to come directly from the constellation Aquarius; which is how the event got its name.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is known for having extremely fast stars that can travel up to 44 miles per second from our vantage point. However, don’t worry if you’re not quick enough to catch one, because most leave glowing trials behind them for a few seconds.
The shower in total runs from April 19th to May 28th, but more times than not there will only be a handful of shooting stars every night. For the best chance of seeing one, go out before dawn on May 5th, when the shower is predicted to be at its peak. The days leading up to and following the peak will be most ideal for viewing.
Predawn early hours are thought to be the very best time to see shooting stars, so you’ll have to get up nice and early if you really want to see the show.
Your distance from the equator also may impact how many meteors you’ll see in the coming month. The closer you are, the more likely you’ll see shooting stars light up the sky every night. Scientists claim the Southern Hemisphere has the most prime viewing of this shower, however, the Eta Aquarids are visible all over the world, they’re just more predominant in some places.
The next two meteor showers that will be around the same size as these two annual ones will be the Southern Delta Aquarid shower and the Alpha Capricornids shower, both of which are set to begin and peak in late July. However, the Perseid meteor shower coming up this August is projected to be one of the biggest of the year.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.