One of the busiest spring meteor showers, called Eta Aquarids, peaks this weekend. To catch the “shooting stars”, just go outside and watch the southern night sky.
The Eta Aquarids reached their approximate peak on Friday morning (May 6), and they will continue to do well in the days to come, hitting up to 30 meteors per hour. And these meteors are known for their speed, reaching some 148,000 mph (just over 238,000 km/h) when they hit our atmosphere, NASA said.
The shooting stars come from Halley’s Comet (1P/Halley), a short-period comet that passes through the inner solar system every 75 to 76 years and will then pass by around 2061. During these visits, the comet leaves behind its own vocation card – a trail of dust-grain debris that Earth passes through each May. Pieces of debris that hit our atmosphere will burn harmlessly before they reach the ground.
This meteor shower is best visible from the Southern Hemisphere or near the equator, but you can still spot the meteors in the Northern Hemisphere, said Bill Cooke, who heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight. Center of the agency in Alabama. .
“It will be interesting to see if the rates are low this year, or if we will have a spike in the numbers before next year’s forecast blows up,” Cooke said in a NASA post Wednesday, May 3.
For best meteor viewing, head out around 3 a.m. local time after the moon has set. While meteors originate from the constellation Aquarius near the celestial equator, it is best to look at the zenith of the sky (upward) in order to see as many meteors as possible.
Choose a safe place and bring a lawn chair to reduce neck strain. Get away from as many lights as possible and try to get outside at least 20 minutes before you go meteor hunting, to let your eyes adjust to the dark, according to NASA. If you want to use your phone or a flashlight, apply a red filter or red tape so you don’t ruin your night vision.
Astrophotographers wishing to capture meteors should consult the beginner’s guide on our partner website, Space.com. If you can, try to practice shooting the night before the show peaks, so you have a chance to double-check your settings and make sure the shots turn out the way you want. Good hunt!
Editor’s note: If you take a great photo of a meteor and want to share it with Live Science readers, send your photo(s), comments, and name and location to email@example.com.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace.