The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Will Light Up the Night Sky This Thursday
In just a couple of days, stargazers will be in for a treat: The Eta Aqaurid meteor shower will make for an extra-starry night on Thursday, May 5. Bill Cooke, the lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, explained that this meteor shower has medium brightness. This means that the darker the sky is at night, the easier it'll be for you to spot the shooting stars, also known as Eta Aquariids, as they fall. Plus, the best time to catch the out-of-this-world phenomenon will be right around 12 a.m. EST.
At its peak, you'll be able to see up to 50 shooting stars. The moon will also be in its "waxing crescent" phase, meaning it'll be able 15 percent full, during the peak of the meteor shower. For those around the world who want to see this sight, it'll be the most visible in areas close to the equator in both hemispheres. The best way to look out for it is by finding the constellation Aquarius, which is in the Southern sky, though. The shooting stars in the Northern sky are known as "earthgrazers" since they will move along the Earth's horizon, NASA reports.
According to Cooke, the best way to see the meteor shower is by laying flat on your back while looking straight up at the sky—as this angle will allow you to see the sky at large without causing you to strain your neck. This event happens as a result of Halley's Comet, which comes back to Earth every 76 years. (The last time the comet made an appearance in the sky was in 1986, and it won't pop up again until 2061, CNN reports.)
Make sure to keep an eye out: The shooting stars will move fast in the sky. These burn through the atmosphere at 41 miles per second and 148,000 miles per hour. If you can't catch the meteor shower at its peak on May 5, don't worry, there's still a chance to see it. The shooting stars will also be visible before dawn on May 4 and 6. In total, the meteor shower will remain active until May 27 this year.