Halley’s Comet 2019: What time will Eta Aquarid meteor shower peak?

Halley’s Comet will not return to Earth skies until the 2060s. But stargazers can this weekend catch a glimpse of Halley’s Comet in the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Here Express.co.uk explains everything you need to know about watching the meteor shower this weekend.

Our planet is currently passing through a patch of debris created in the wake of Halley’s Comet.

Meteor’s ‘trains’ can last for several seconds to minutes

NASA

When this space debris impacts Earth’s atmosphere, it incinerates and lights-up the night sky in the form of streaks of meteors.

The best time to view this shower of shooting stars is in the predawn hours on Saturday and Sunday.

In good news for stargazers, the New Moon will just be a small silvery crescent, so its light won’t wash out the view.

And in addition, the Met Office has confirmed clear skies are forecast during the meteor shower’s peak.

These meteors earned their unusual moniker Eta Aquarid because they appear to arrive from the Aquarius constellation.

Specifically, these shooting stars emanate from a star near the top of the Aquarius constellation.

Stargazers actually get two shots at watching this patch of space debris each year.

The shooting stars reappears again in October, when the skies light up with the Orionid meteor shower.

The difference being that during October’s meet shower, the shooting stars appear to emanate from Orion.

US space agency NASA notes the Eta Aquarids are particularly fast meteors, which “can leave glowing ‘trains’ (incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteor) which last for several seconds to minutes.”

NASA adds it will be easier to spot the meteor shower in the Southern Hemisphere because Aquarius is higher in the sky for that half of the globe.

Meanwhile, Aquarius is closer to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere.

Those of us in the north can expect to see approximately 10 meteors an hour grazing the horizon in the hours before dawn.

While those in the Southern Hemisphere can look forward to seeing as many as 40 meteors per hour.

How to watch the Eta Aquarid meteor shower:

To view the Eta Aquarids find an area well away from city or street lights.

Come prepared with warms clothes and something comfortable to lie on or sit in.

Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.

After about 30 minutes your eyes should adapt to the dark and you will begin to see meteors.

Be patient as the show will last until dawn, meaning you will have plenty of time to catch a glimpse of the shooting showers.

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