The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, a dazzling celestial display, will be at its peak on May 5 and continue until the following morning.
The eastern part of the sky, where one will be able to spot Aquarius during this time of the year, will be where the meteors will originate. The Eta Aquarid began on April 19 and is expected to end on May 28. On May 5, it will reach its peak and present a brilliant display of meteors.
The celestial occurrence is known to be more prominent in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern. While astronomers and stargazers in the Southern Hemisphere may be able to spot 20 to 30 meteors per hour during its peak, those above the Equator will only see about half as many. National Geographic News noted that the most ideal spot to view the shower will be from the countryside; away from the pollution of the city where the skies are clear.
Counted as one of the fastest meteor showers, the debris from the Era Aquarid travel at an alarming speed of 148,000 miles per hour. “If you blink, you’re not going to see them. They move that fast,” Bill Cooke, an astronomer with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said. He added that the power of these meteors, each of which is only as big as a grain of sand, is similar to a .357-caliber bullet.
“That’s why they leave these brilliant streaks in the atmosphere — they have a lot of energy,” he said.
What makes the meteor shower popular is that it is the leftover pieces of Halley’s comet, which was last seen close to the Earth in 1986. The next time one is able to catch the debris from Halley’s comet will be in October during the Orionid shower, as reported by the New York Times. The celestial event occurs once every 76 years.
“The Eta Aquarids and Orionid showers provide an opportunity to at least see part of Halley’s comet burning up,” Cooke said.