2017 is turning out to be a fantastic one for fans of viewing astronomical events. The Lyrid meteors at the end of April put on a particularly nice version of their annual show. A solar eclipse this summer stands to impress most of the globe. And this week, the annual Eta Aquariid meteor shower promises to be a stunning success.
This Week’s Astronomical Show: The Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower
The Aquariids can shine from late April through mid-May, but this year they will peak the night of May 5, especially just before dawn on May 6. They also started a bit earlier and will end later than usual. Eta Aquariid started being visible on April 19 and will continue to be seen up to May 28.
The dust and pea sized gravel will fall towards Earth at a rate of about 30 per hour, leaving a bright streak in the sky commonly known as a shooting star. The flare is the result of dust burning up due to the tremendous friction created by the Earth’s atmosphere as it slows from its huge relative velocity.
Experienced viewers have a few recommendations for you if you want to make the most of your night. Find a place far away from large light sources, especially cities. Avoid obstructions like trees and buildings. Recline on your back if possible, as this gives you the widest view of the sky and prevents any stress on your neck from stretching to see. And it always helps to have good weather when viewing any meteor shower or other astronomical phenomena.