Meteor shower weather forecast: Can Eta Aquarid shooting stars be seen?

The May Bank Holiday weekend will kick-off with a shooting star display, with the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaking today, Saturday, May 4. Stargazers can expect to see up to 40 meteors an hour streak across the night sky. But meteor showers are however only visible when there is no cloud cover – so what weather has the UK Met Office forecast for the weekend?

The Met Office has confirmed clear skies are forecast during the peak of the meteor shower, allowing stargazers to watch a stunning shooting star light show.

We should see some good clear skies

Met Office

The UK’s meteorological agency also revealed the better the spectacle will be, the further south in England you are.

A Met Office spokesman told “With high pressure dominating and a colder air mass we should see some good clear skies both on the night of the 5th and 6th away from the north, which could have a few clouds and showers.

“There is also a chance of some patchy cloud but the further south the chance of clear skies increases.”

Eta Aquarid are caused by Halley’s Comet, the most famous of all comets.

Halley’s Comet takes 75 to 76 years to orbit the sun and occasionally comes close to Earth.

When Halley’s Comet does come close, some of the comet’s offshoot – debris the size of a grain of sand – incinerates in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing us to see the spectacular shooting stars.

Halley’s Comet is in fact responsible for more than May’s Eta Aquarid shower.

The comet also causes another spectacular in October, known as the Orionids meteor shower.

The comet is believed to have been first observed some 2,200 years ago but it was not until astronomer Edmond Halley in 1705 that it was officially recognised.

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

But the comet has been sighted by different civilisations for millennia.

And Halley’s Comet even made an expected cameo during the Battle of Hastings.

And the spectacle immortalised when it was was stitched into the Bayeux Tapestry.

How to watch the Eta Aquarids:

To view the Eta Aquarids, find an area well away from city or street light pollution.

Then 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.

It is important to be patient, as the show will last until dawn, meaning you will have plenty of time to catch a glimpse of the Eta Aquarids.

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