An Wonderful Yr for the Eta Aquariid Meteor Bathe

May 1, 2019 - Comment

With no Moon to muss, take a crack at seeing what might be one of many higher meteor showers of the yr. The Eta Aquariid radiant is proven right here from latitude 30° north (Houston, Cairo, Delhi, Shanghai) 90 minutes earlier than dawn. Farther north, the radiant is decrease when the sky begins to get


With no Moon to muss, take a crack at seeing what might be one of many higher meteor showers of the yr.

Where to spot Eta Aquariid meteors

The Eta Aquariid radiant is proven right here from latitude 30° north (Houston, Cairo, Delhi, Shanghai) 90 minutes earlier than dawn. Farther north, the radiant is decrease when the sky begins to get mild. Bathe members can seem wherever throughout the sky, however all of them hint their paths backwards to the radiant.
Sky & Telescope

If you have not paid a lot consideration to the Eta Aquariid bathe attributable to its early hour, it is time to commit. These speedy spitballs from the constellation Aquarius could be the final good meteor present for the rest of the yr.

You’ll be able to blame the Moon. The richest showers — the August Perseids and December Geminids — will take a extreme hit from moonlight this yr. In each instances, the Moon can be at or close to full and up many of the night time. Even October’s Orionids will solely limp alongside due to a final quarter Moon.

A vibrant Eta Aquariid speeds beneath Corona Australis on Might 5, 2014.
Frankie Lucena

From tropical and southern latitudes, the Eta Aquariid bathe is a strong hitter with a peak of 40 meteors an hour. For skywatchers in mid-northern latitudes that quantity can be nearer to 10–20 as a result of the radiant solely climbs to 15°–25° earlier than the beginning of morning twilight. Most happens Sunday morning, Might fifth, within the wee hours earlier than the beginning of daybreak. Meaning you may must be exterior watching from about three–four:30 a.m. To be sure you do not miss that window, click on right here on your dawn time and again up about 1 hour and 40 minutes to determine the beginning of morning twilight. Then again up yet another hour to permit time to view the bathe underneath a darkish sky.

A number of years again I had an exquisite expertise with the Eta Aquariids. Meteors appeared at a gentle tempo proper into morning twilight, tore throughout the sky at unimaginable velocity, and left good trains. Certainly, the stream produces quick meteors with speeds round 67 km/s, on par with their sister bathe, the Orionids, and the zippy Leonids. Whereas I solely noticed a dozen at most, every had character.

Eta Aquariids are dribs and drabs of Halley’s Comet. Perturbations by planets and the Solar have triggered the particles to unfold out right into a ribbon centered on Halley’s orbit. Earth plows by means of the particles within the outbound leg of the comet’s orbit each Might and the inbound leg each October.
Bob King

The Orionids and Eta Aquariids are two sides of the identical coin since each are splinters of Halley’s Comet. Earth crosses the comet’s path twice a yr, first in Might, when meteors stream from close to the star Eta Aquarii, and once more in late October, when Halley’s mud turns into the Orionids. On Might fifth, the comet is a 26th-magnitude blip 35 a.u. (5.2 billion km) from Earth, positioned 6° west of the top of Hydra, the Water Snake. It reaches aphelion on December 9, 2023. Till it returns in 2061, we’ll have these two showers to remind us it but lurks at midnight.

Given the radiant’s low altitude, be alert for Earthgrazers lengthy earlier than the radiant rises. These are slower-moving meteors that launch upward from under the horizon, skimming the environment and flaring for a lot of seconds earlier than fading out. The perfect time to see them is through the late night and really early morning earlier than the height.

Way out there!

This diagram exhibits the placement of Halley’s Comet and its orbit at this yr’s Eta Aquariid bathe peak.
JPL / Horizons

To greatest benefit from the bathe use this interactive Mild Air pollution Map to search out as darkish a location as attainable exterior town. Deliver a reclining chair (or lie flat in your again), a blanket for heat, and a pair of eyes. Areas with wide-open views are greatest. As with all meteor showers, you needn’t stare on the radiant to catch an Eta Aquariid. Perspective causes meteors from that course to seem brief. Angle your chair to the south or northeast and you may see the “taking pictures stars” from the facet, the place they show longer and extra dramatic trails. Talking of which, these quick meteors are recognized for producing persistent trains, long-lasting streaks of ionized air that glow for a second or two after the meteoroid has vaporized.

If the climate appears dangerous Sunday, the bathe will present good exercise from Might four–6, so you may have multiple morning to spy a flaming Halley-mote. When you’re out, you may additionally get pleasure from spectacular views of the summer season Milky Approach earlier than the mosquitoes arrive and see Venus seem low within the southeast at daybreak.



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