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How to see the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in 2024

How to see the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in 2024

It's May and it's getting hot (in the Northern Hemisphere). At times like this, the Eta Aquarid is a perfect excuse to see the meteor shower The night sky.

This year the peak of the shower is near the new moon – as opposed to the full moon – which is ideal. A darker sky means better viewing conditions, which will come as a relief to anyone who tried to catch the show last year when a brilliant full moon filled the sky with light. The sighting of the meteor was impossible. These conditions also contrast nicely with last month's Lyrid meteor shower, during which a nearly full waxing gibbous moon ruined your attempt to wish on a shooting star.

When to See Eta Aquarids in 2024

Eta Aquarids puts on a long show with activity from April 15 to May 27 this year. However, if you're only looking for one time, plan to do it during the show's peak activity on the night of May 4th. Early morning hours on May 5. In theory, 2 a.m. local time is the best time (for factors we'll go into below), but meteors don't follow the rules, so 2 a.m. and mid-morning are interesting as well. sure to be.

Past experience with this shower indicates that Eta Aquarids explode. That means if you look up during the silence, you'll think you've missed the show. But wait a little longer, and there will be no ambiguity. These are fast meteors, and you'll usually know you're looking at the Eta Aquarids by the speed of the action. Patience will be rewarded.

How can I see Eta Aquarids?

Since most Mashable readers are in the northern hemisphere, the unfortunate answer to this question is: for best results, switch hemispheres. Southern Hemisphere-based stargazers are blessed with up to 50 meteors per hour (assuming conditions are ideal), while northerners can only hope to see 10-30 per hour. Honestly, though, 10-30 is still good.

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Look for a patch of dark sky over an area away from cities and towns. A wide open view is best, so if you're reading this from the bottom of a well, it'll be hard to catch the meteor shower. Get comfortable. Stay warm. Protect your night vision by not looking at your phone.

What are Eta Aquarids anyway?

The Eta Aquarids get their name from their bright spot, which is simply the place in the sky where meteors originate. Eta Aquarids begins in the constellation Aquarius, so your meteor viewing time includes waiting for Aquarius to rise above the horizon (which is why waiting until 2 a.m. local time is your best bet). But Aquarius is a cluster of stars light-years away, and the meteors themselves are 31 miles away when we see them burn up in our atmosphere.

Typically, meteor showers are the result of small Earth dust and ice particles passing through the comet's path. Eta Aquarids have a celebrity parent: the Michael Jordan of space rocks, Halley's Comet. The solar system's most famous comet won't visit Earth for decades, but this shower is our annual encounter with long-lasting evidence of its existence.

Can apps help me find Eta Aquarids?

Stargazing apps like SkySafari are highly recommended for stargazing in general, but they aren't very useful during a meteor shower. An app can make it a breeze to find Aquarius, but a bright screen will make the meteors difficult to see, and they tend to spread out across the sky instead of clustering around their bright point.

The best advice is: just look up, and wait.

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