Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

05/05/2016Written by Tamela Maciel

In 2016, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the mornings of 5 – 6 May, with around 10 meteors per hour coming from the eastern sky.

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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 2016, peak activity occurs in the early twilight mornings 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.

When to view meteors

When to view meteors

The Eta Aquarids are named after the southern constellation Aquarius as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. While the meteors originate from this point they can often been seen stretching across large sections of the sky, so be sure to keep careful watch.

To view the Eta Aquarids from the UK, head out in the pre-dawn twilight from about 4am to dawn on 5 – 6 May. Look towards the east-southeast horizon but keep an eye on the rest of the sky too. The darker the location the better! And be sure to wrap up warm.

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic

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