We can’t go to the movies, so here’s a free show.

For all you stargazers out there, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower is happening this week! Peak time to see this phenomenon will be this Tuesday (5/5). As we are nearing a full moon this may be easier said than done.

According to the American Meteor Society, the first 2 weeks of May are the best viewing period for Eta Aquariids meteor showers. They tend to trickle off, thereafter.

The source of this meteor shower is Halley's Comet. We can expect to see this string of meteors every April/May and then again in October during the Orionid meteor shower. The name of the meteor shower may sound familiar, coming from the northeastern portion of the constellation, Aquarius.

Forecasts are calling for an increased number of meteor showers in 2020 in addition to more waxing gibbous moons. These moons, which contend with the meteor showers, rise before sundown and set sometime between midnight and dawn. Thus, this makes viewing exceptionally difficult this season despite the increase in meteor showers.

To increase your chances of seeing these meteors, get outside during the darkest period of the night being the few hours before dawn. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we can expect to see between 10-30 Eta Aquariids meteors during this time.

According to EarthSky we can also do the following to ensure better viewing:

  1. Spread out in a “moon shadow” area. The moon tends to cast a shadow, as would the sun, when the light is blocked by objects. High areas are great for viewing.
  2. Avoid the big city lights as they only flood the sky with more light and block your view of the stars.
  3. Watch with friends and look in different directions. Meteors are fast, traveling at approximately 150,000 mph and you might just miss one.

If you miss this one don’t worry. The other showers this month are the eta Lyrids and the Anthelion radiant.

I can’t imagine a better way to spend World Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.

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