Remember how fun it was as a kid to lay outside at night and gaze up at the sky, trying to sneak a peak at a shooting star?
Well this weekend you’ll get a chance to roll out some blankets, gather with your loved ones, and witness one of the most beloved astronomical events of the year, the Aquarian Meteor Shower.
This phenomenon of “falling stars” will appear to originate from the constellation of Aquarius and is properly named the Eta Aquarid Meteor shower after the brightest start in the constellation, Eta Aquarii, or as we call it, the ‘Water Jug.’
(Fun Fact: the point meteors appear to come from is called the radiant.)
A meteor shower occurs when a comet (in this case the Comet Halley) swings through our inner solar system and is warmed by the heat of the sun; this causes the comet to burn its tail, letting off small rice-size pieces of meteor rock. When Earth moves through the Comet’s debris field, these luminescent meteoroids fall into Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, producing a star show like no other.
How to Watch the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower:
- First things first, set up your Switchmate App so you can turn your lights off from your phone. No getting up and running back in the house necessary!
- The “falling stars” will be most visible after the Moonset, between the hours of 3am and 5am the morning of May 6th, 2017.
- If you live near a big city, the moon AND artificial lights will make this event more challenging to see. Try getting out of town or going for a quick drive an hour or so before dawn for less interference!
- Due to the season, this event favors the Southern Hemisphere and sub-tropic locations in the Northern Hemisphere, with 20-40 meteors falling per hour. If you live in the upper Northern Hemisphere, don’t worry! You will still be able to watch the event, just be sure to get out there while it’s still really dark.
- Lay back and relax, the Aquarian Meteor shower only comes once a year. Enjoy!