Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2020

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2020

30/04/2020Written by Malika Andress

In 2020, the Eta Aquarids peak on the night of 5-6 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 2020, peak activity occurs midnight and dawn of 5-6 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, the thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be a good show.

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 5-6 May.

Look up and keep an eye on the whole sky.

If it’s cloudy, you can always try your luck on a nearby day. The Eta Aquarids are active from 24 April – 20 May.

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic
Credit: National Space Centre

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

Other upcoming meteor showers for 2020 include:

Delta Aquarids
Comet of Origin: 96P/Machholz
Radiant: constellation Aquarius
Peak Activity: 29/30 July 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Perseus
Peak Activity: 12/13 Aug 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 90 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: Halley
Radiant: constellation Orion
Peak Activity: 21/22 Oct 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: 2P/Encke
Radiant: constellation Taurus
Peak Activity: 10/11 Nov 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Leo
Peak Activity: 16/17 Nov 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Peak Activity: 14/15 Dec 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour

Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: 21/22 December 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour