Eta Aquarid meteor shower to peak this weekend

Our humble meteor observing rig… Credit Dave Dickinson

Our humble meteor observing rig… Credit Dave Dickinson

As the earth passes through the comet's dust trail, tiny particles move toward the earth's atmosphere at a speed of 150,000 miles per hour. The meteor shower - usually active every year between 19 April and 28 May - will peak during the morning hours of 5 and 6 May.

An Eta Aquarid meteor seen over Georgia in 2012.

This particular meteor shower, called the Eta Aquariids, is thanks to debris left behind by Halley's Comet hundreds of years ago. Meanwhile, those south of the equator can expect over 40 meteors per hour on the peak night.

Uninterrupted views and cloud-free night skies on Saturday night are expected across the Pacific Northwest, central Rockies, and along a portion of MI to eastern Texas.

Unlike a solar eclipse, they are safe to view with the naked eye, and you do not need any special equipment to see them at their best.

Meteor trails will rise from the east at about 2:00am, so if you have a good view of the horizon, you will be able to see them straight away.

Storm clouds and rain across the eastern United States region won't allow watchers to view the meteor shower, and it will be the same for those located in the Upper midwest and California.

Astronomers are urging people to get out of bed in the middle of the night for the Eta Aquarids, predicted to be one of the most phenomenal displays of its kind in years.

The best time to view this shower of shooting stars will be in Monday's predawn hours.

Eta Aquarids is an annual astronomical event.

The last time it was visible from Earth was 1986, and it is next expected to pass by in 2061. The meteors will then be more likely to appear with a long tail.

Meteors associated with the Eta Aquarids will radiate from the southeast; however, meteors will be visible in all areas of the sky, not just near the radiant point. NASA said these meteors are fast and can leave glowing trains of incandescent bits which last for several seconds to minutes.

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