The eta-Aquarids Meteor Shower is one of the best in 2019. This is because there’s no moonlight at the time of the meteor shower’s peak which means you’ll be able to spot more meteors or “shooting stars”.
When to look: From 3.30am, Monday 6th May 2019
Which direction to look: East.
Look low on the eastern horizon for the first hour or so. As time goes by the meteors will appear to come from a bit higher up and further towards the north east.
The eta-Aquarids Meteor Shower is active from 19 April to 28 May with the peak happening on 6th May. It’s predicted that there will be up to 60 meteors per hour at the peak of activity. It’s worth seeing this meteor shower in the week or so either side. There can be up to 30 meteors per hour in the off-peak times.
For Telescopes and Binoculars
You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see! Fingers crossed for a spectacular show!
A meteor shower occurs when our planet Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand. When this debris hits the Earth’s atmosphere it burns up causing a bright streak of light to appear in our night sky. When Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet, there are lots of pieces that can enter Earth’s atmosphere causing a greater number of meteors (or “shooting stars”).
In the case of the eta-Aquarid Meteor Shower, Earth is passing through the debris left by the well-known Halley’s Comet. Earth also passes through Halley’s Comet trail of debris in October which gives us the Orionids Meteor Shower.
If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), a meteorite may have landed on Earth and WA’s Fireballs in the Sky Network would love to know! You can download the app and become a Citizen Scientist by reporting sightings. You might even like to follow the International Meteor Organization! Perhaps you’ll see a fireball like the one seen over Mexico City!
It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors will be quite faint so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns?
While you’re out counting meteors on the 6th, you’ll also see bright Venus rise on the eastern horizon. It will rise at 4.44am and will be dazzling!