Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2018

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2018

03/05/2018Written by Tamela Maciel

In 2018, the Eta Aquarids peak on the night of 6-7 May, with up to 30 meteors per hour.

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Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Get the hot chocolate and blankets ready – the Eta Aquarids are coming to a night sky near you. In 2018, peak activity occurs in the early twilight morning of 6-7 May.

Twice a year, the Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley’s Comet – once in May and once in October. Comets constantly shed dust and stones as they fly around the Sun, and it is this debris along Halley’s path that causes the Eta Aquarids. The debris hits Earth’s atmosphere at nearly 150,000 kilometres an hour and burns up in bright, short blazes about 80 kilometres off the ground. In October this same debris trail causes the Orionid meteor shower.

Halley’s Comet takes 76 years to orbit the Sun and will next be visible from Earth in 2061.

This year a waning gibbous Moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this, but if you’re patient you should be able to spot the brighter ones.

How to Watch

Credit: Stellarium

Credit: Stellarium

The Eta Aquarids are named after the southern constellation Aquarius as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. 

While the meteors appear to originate from Aquarius, they are best seen 30 degrees away from origin, so be sure to keep careful watch across the whole sky.

To view the Eta Aquarids from the UK, head outside anytime after midnight on the night of the 6-7 May.

Look up, keep an eye on the whole sky, and find a location as far from city lights as you can!

If it’s cloudy, you can always try your luck on a nearby day. The Eta Aquarids are active from 19 April – 28 May.

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic
Credit: National Space Centre

Download our National Space Centre Meteor Shower Guide to make sure you are fully prepared to watch the Eta Aquarids!

Other upcoming meteor showers for 2018 include:

Delta Aquarids

Comet of Origin: 96P/Machholz
Radiant: constellation Aquarius
Peak Activity: 27-30 July 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Perseids

Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Perseus
Peak Activity: 12-13 Aug 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 90 meteors per hour
Notes: Moon sets early, leaving perfect dark skies

Orionids

Comet of Origin: Halley
Radiant: constellation Orion
Peak Activity: 21 Oct 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Taurids

Comet of Origin: 2P/Encke
Radiant: constellation Taurus
Peak Activity: 4-5 Nov 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Leonids

Comet of Origin: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Leo
Peak Activity: 17-18 Nov 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Geminids

Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Peak Activity: Dec. 13-14, 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour

Ursids

Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: Dec. 21-22, 2018
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Clear skies!