Meteor shower to peak Saturday as Earth collides with Halley's Comet debris

Eta Aquarid

The radiant for the Eta Aquarids at 3 AM local as seen from latitude 35 degrees north. Credit Stellarium

This weekend will feature the second meteor shower in as many weeks as Earth passes through a trail of debris left behind by one of the most well-known comets in recent history.

Yet another meteor shower is on the way, and it will peak late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

According to the International Meteor Organization, the Eta Aquarids usually produce medium rates of 10 to 30 meteors every hour just before dawn.

While those in the Southern Hemisphere can look forward to seeing as many as 40 meteors per hour.

The eta-Aquarids shower is remnants of Halleys comet which has, over time, disintegrated, Wellington Space Place planterium presenter Cass Darwen said.

Halley's comet only grazes the Earth's orbit every 75 years.

With an early-May peak - this year it's May 4-6 - the Eta Aquarid meteors travel at about 148,000 miles per hour into Earth's atmosphere. This is from the night of May 4 to the dawn of Sunday.

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Storm clouds and rain across the eastern United States region won't allow watchers to view the meteor shower, and it will be the same for those located in the Upper midwest and California.

The best time to view this shower of shooting stars will be in Monday's predawn hours.

In the Northern Hemisphere, that pretty much sums up an Eta Aquarid meteor viewing experience.

Getting away from the city and light pollution will provide a better view.

Take a blanket or chair with so you can view the spectacular show in comfort. Its last flyby was in 1986 and is expected to appear again in 2061. Those tiny particles burn up as it enters the Earth's atmosphere and appear as streaks of meteors.

"The fast and often bright meteors make the wait for radiant-rise worthwhile, with many events leave glowing persistent trains after them". As the earth passes through the comet's dust trail, tiny particles move toward the earth's atmosphere at a speed of 150,000 miles per hour.

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