Space

Earth Is About To Pass Through The Tail Of Halley's Comet, Giving Us A Month Of Meteor Showers

March 24, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: Composite of the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower on May 13, 2013. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Crane your neck up and get the coffee on; beginning in April, the early mornings and late nights are going to be splashed with meteors.

The Eta Aquarids will start around April 20 and will continue right up until May 21. The best time to view them will be in the small hours between May 5 and 7, when the sky will be the darkest during the new Moon.

The specks and flecks you’ll be seeing are tiny pieces of debris from Halley’s Comet hitting Earth’s atmosphere and burning up. They’re called the Eta Aquarids as they appear to emerge from the constellation of Aquarius.

The shower will be more visible in the southern hemisphere. However, those in the northern hemisphere should be able to catch the odd one, especially if you're near the equator. At their peak time, those in the southern hemisphere can expect to see up to 30 meteors every hour. If weather conditions are favorable, even those north of the equator can still see up to 10 every hour.

As ever with viewing meteor showers, it’s always best to go outside for half an hour before the shower starts so your eyes become acclimatized to seeing in low light. Additionally, the meteors will be more clearly visible the further you are from the light pollution of city lights and street lamps.

Main image credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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