Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower – when will we see fireballs this week?

ONE of the best shooting star shows of the year will light up the UK and US skies this week.

Glowing fireballs are expected to appear over several nights as our planet wanders through debris left behind by Halley’s Comet.

Meteors and star trails during the Perseid meteor shower seen from near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park


Meteors and star trails during the Perseid meteor shower seen from near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National ParkCredit: PA

What is the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower?

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is typically active from mid-April to mid-May each year.

Eta Aquarii, the brightest star in the constellation Aquarius, gives the shower its name.

This is because the fireballs in the night sky appear to be radiating from this direction.

Eta Aquarids is actually one of two meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley.

Meteors are formed when dust and rocks smash into Earth’s atmosphere at nearly 150,000 miles per hour.

Earth will pass Halley’s path again in October, leading to the Orionid meteor shower.

“Eta Aquarids peak in early May each year. Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed.

“These meteors are fast — they travel into Earth’s atmosphere at about 148,000 mph (66 km/s).

“Fast-moving meteors can leave behind glowing “trains” (glowing debris in the meteor’s wake) that last for several seconds to minutes.

“Generally, 30 Eta Aquarid meteors can be seen per hour during their peak.”

When is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower?

The best time to see the shower is early in the morning.

During the peak, which the American Meteor Society says falls on May 5-6, stargazers could see up to 30 meteors an hour.

However, many fireballs will be visible for a few days before and after the peak of the shower.

You should be able to catch a handful of meteors per hour by May 10th.

How to see the Eta Aquariid meteor shower

You shouldn’t need any special equipment to see the meteor shower, but clear skies will help.

It can be useful to locate the constellation Aquarius, as that is where the meteors appear to radiate.

The show is usually seen better in the southern hemisphere.

Stargazers in the northern hemisphere may notice more meteors by looking toward the horizon.

Nasa previously shared some tips on how to make the most of your yard to capture a meteor shower.

It advised: “Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lounge chair.

“Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east, look up and take in as much of the sky as you can.

“After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adjust and you’ll start seeing meteors.

“Be patient – the show runs until dawn so give yourself plenty of time to catch a glimpse.”

What is Halley’s Comet?

Halley’s Comet is one of the most famous objects in the solar system and was named after its discoverer, astronomer Edmond Halley.

He examined reports of a comet approaching in 1531, 1607, and 1682 and concluded that they were all the same.

Comet Halley is the only known short-period comet that is often visible to the naked eye from Earth.

Dust and rock deposited by the comet is regularly visible in the form of meteor showers.

However, the comet itself occurs once every 76 years. It is next expected to be visible from Earth in 2061.

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