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The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should peak Monday night, the 5th of May at 07:00 Universal Time (or midnight Mountain Time, 11pm Pacific Time), but the best viewing times (due to the Moon and a low Eastern radiant) will a few hours before dawn Tuesday morning, around 4am to 5am.

At the peak, up to 55 meteors could be seen each hour.  They're pretty fast, at 66km/second, often bright with very long paths, and leave persistent glowing trails.

 

The source of the meteors is debris from Halley's comet.  The Comet's orbital path contains dust particles and ice (thinned out in spots by Jupiter).  The Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley's Comet twice each year.  In May we see it as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower and in October the Orionids.

 

The Eta Aquarids should be best seen early Tuesday morning. The Moon will have set by then, so it will be seen under a dark sky.  The radiant is low in the Eastern sky, in Aquarius, which rises around 4am.  So half the meteors will be unseen below the horizon. 

 

For more information, see http://www.imo.net/calendar/2014#eta

 

Rick Nowell

 

College of the Rockies

Cranbrook, BC, Canada

49°31'03"N, 115°44'37"W, 940m