DR. SKY BLOG

Eta Aquariid meteor shower to pass through Arizona skies in May

May 1, 2019, 2:35 PM
(Flickr/ume-y)...
(Flickr/ume-y)
(Flickr/ume-y)

As the month of May opens up, get set for one of the best meteor showers of the entire year!

This meteor shower is known as the Eta Aquariid shower — and the peak of this great event is just days away.

Meteors are the debris that is left in the orbits of comets and they orbit around the Sun with a specific period. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is the leftover debris from Halley’s Comet, one of the most famous of all comets.

The orbit of Halley’s Comet is some 76 years in length, giving the comet the title of “Mankind’s Comet,” making it visible at least once in the average lifetime of a human on Earth.

Astronomer Edmund Halley did not discover the comet that is named in his honor, but rather the fact that he predicted its orbit and the return of the comets orbit in a period of 76 years.

The last time that many remember the return of Halley’s Comet was back in the years 1910 and 1986!

Did you get to see Halley’s Comet in 1986?

If you did, remember that it will not return until July 28, 2061, when the comet will once again be closest to the Sun at perihelion.

But don’t let that stop you from viewing the debris from this most famous of all comets!

Plan on locating the darkest location you can find to set up camp and begin your observations on the evening of May 4. The moon will be at or near its new phase and will not pose a threat to observing the faintest of meteors.

You will need a clear view of the eastern sky as the radiant of the shower will not rise until 3 a.m. on the 5th.

For those of you that require additional specifics, please not that nautical twilight will begin to show early signs of light by around 4:37 a.m. and civil twilight will begin to wipe out the faintest meteors and stars by 5:10 a.m. on the morning of the 5th.

If all goes well, you may get to see upwards of 20 meteors per hour!

Your chance to get to see actual debris from the most famous of all comets.

The debris, the size of beach sand and pebbles, is entering the atmosphere at speeds of 150,000 mph!

Here is a basic finder chart for one of the best meteor showers in some time.

Good luck in viewing the meteor shower!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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Eta Aquariid meteor shower to pass through Arizona skies in May