DR. SKY BLOG

Meteor shower and lunar eclipse will highlight May skies

Apr 21, 2021, 2:00 PM
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

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 he predicted its orbit and the return of the comet’s 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 going to the darkest location you can find to set up camp and begin your observations on the evening of May 4.

This is an early morning event for sky observers, as the moon will rise in the southeastern sky around 2 a.m. Arizona time.

The light of the moon will lower the number of meteors seen but still worth the effort if you have a clear sky.

Best night to look for the meteors will be on the night of May 5 into the next morning. The moon will rise May 6 at 2:30 a.m. in the southeastern sky and appear some 22% illuminated.

The meteors will be seen coming from that part of the sky.

For those of you who require additional specifics, please note 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.

If all goes well, you may get to see upwards of 20 meteors per hour – your chance 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 finder chart for the meteor shower.

On a final note, and one that we will cover in greater detail in a future blog, will be the total lunar eclipse of May 26.

This event will take place in Arizona with the partial phase beginning at 2:45 a.m. local time. The total phase begins at 4:11 a.m., along with greatest eclipse at 4:19 a.m. Totality will end at 4:26 a.m.

This is a full flower super moon – the closest full moon of all of 2021!

Here is a basic outline of the eclipse.

More on this major event in a few weeks.

Dr. Sky Blog

SOFIA soars over the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains with its telescope door open during a tes...
Steve Kates

Details about the amazing airborne telescope SOFIA

Flying above most of the atmosphere to capture images of faint celestial objects is one of the great technological achievements of science and so it is with the NASA/SOFIA Science Center’s specially modified 747SP aircraft.
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Grab your binoculars to take a peek at nova in Arizona skies

In the most basic of all explanations, a nova is a star that reaches a critical mass, collapses under the pressure of gravity and then explodes.
8 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

With monsoon out of the way, October skies offer up amazing sights

October 2021 brings about some of the best that the night sky can offer up.
15 days ago
From left: Scott Bolton and Rick Nybakken during a briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory i...
Steve Kates

Jupiter and its moons will fill the eyes of starwatchers in October

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is the dominant planet in our October skies and it's easy to spot high in the southeastern sky at sunset.
22 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view

September and October bring us some clear and cooler nights - just what the doctor ordered to view some amazing objects, like Neptune.
29 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Steve Kates

September skies bring autumn’s harvest moon to light

We bring you some exciting news about a most amazing moon known as the harvest moon.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
...
Albertsons

Grill like a pro this fall with tips from Albertsons

As the weather cools and football season kicks off, it’s a great time to fire up the grill and enjoy your favorite outdoor meals.
Meteor shower and lunar eclipse will highlight May skies