Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, May 6th

Richard

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks at 1:00 am, MDT, on Thursday, May 6th, 2010. Predicted activity at peak is 60 meteors per hour. The Eta Aquarids are result of the Earth passing through the debris field left behind comet Halley. There is another meteor shower also attributed to Halley’s Comet, the Orionids in October.

As a comet approaches and passes the Sun, the ‘dirty snowball’s’ surface sublimates (changes from a solid directly to a gas, bypassing the liquid phase change), creating a huge particle cloud called the ‘coma.’ As the solar wind pushes on the coma of the comet, the tails are formed, becoming visible as sunlight reflects off of them.  These particles are mostly frozen gases and water, but do contain some dusty and rocky bits, usually no larger than a grain of sand. When the Earth passes through this debris field, we see an increase in meteor activity, thus the term ‘meteor shower.’

Eta Aquarid meteors can be seen for several days before and after the peak. They are also fast, averaging 66 km/s (148,000 mph). Other minor meteor showers are also going on during this time period. The way to identify Eta Aquarid meteors is by noting the familiar streak of light and tracing it backwards. Eta Aquarid meteors will tend to originate from the constellation Aquarius, so the streak of light will trace backwards to Aquarius.

3rd Quarter Moon is on the night of the 5th, so a bright Moon will hamper viewing in the pre-dawn hours.

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2 thoughts on “Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, May 6th

  1. This helped me a lot and is some very interesting stuff that i did not know! thank you Mr. uhh Richard ha!! you are greatly appreciated!

  2. Are there any other showers attributed to Halley’s comment coming up in the near future?

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