Meteor shower 2019: When will Eta Aquariids pass Earth? How to see Halley’s Comet

Although the Lyrid meteor shower has ended, stargazers have an even greater treat in store. One of this year’s best meteor showers — the Eta Aquariids — will hit its peak this week. And although famed Halley’s Comet remains far from Earth, eons of its ejected debris will lead to one of this year’s greatest meteor showers.

When will Eta Aquariids pass Earth?

The shower’s peak coincides with a New Moon, so skies will be dark for the display

Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office

With New Moon arriving Saturday, May 4, conditions should be ideal to watch the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which will peak on Monday, May 6.

A dwindling Moon casts relatively little light, so observing conditions will be near ideal by the shower’s peak.

The Eta Aquariids appear to radiate from the Aquarius constellation.

The meteors derive from dust ejected by Halley’s Comet during its near-eternal elliptical orbit around the Sun.

Although this world-famous comet is currently almost at its maximum distance from the Sun, debris from its many encounters with the solar system’s star fills in its orbital path.

When our planet ploughs through this stream of detritus, our Earth’s atmosphere incinerates the tiny dust particles.

And this creates streaks of light we called meteors, more commonly known as shooting stars.

Halley’s Comet which will not get close to our planet until 2062.

The comet takes 75 to 76 years to orbit the sun, but often comes close to Earth.

Halley’s Comet creates one shower in May – the Eta Aquariid shower – and one in October – the Orionids meteor shower.

Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said: “This is a good year for eta Aquariid meteors.

“The shower’s peak coincides with a New Moon, so skies will be dark for the display.”

US space agency NASA describes comets as “cosmic snowballs of frozen gas, rock and dust” and Halley’s Comet is no exception.

Unlike asteroids, typically comprised of rock and metal, comets are made from more volatile materials that ionise in the Sun’s heat, leaving a glowing trail behind them.

Halley’s Comet was first observed approximately 2,200 years ago but it was only when astronomer Edmond Halley recorded it in 1705 that the comet was officially recognised.

Halley was the first scientist to correctly predict the comet’s return in 1758 and the eminent astronomer was honoured by having the comet named after him.

But the comet has been sighted by different civilisations for millennia and was even spotted during the battle of Hastings, where it has been immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry.

Source: Read Full Article