Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower 2020: Watch it peak in night skies

Eta Aquarid meteor shower to illuminate Qatar sky tomorrow

Eta Aquarid meteor shower to illuminate Qatar sky tomorrow

The Eta Aquariids meteor shower will peak tonight, filling the sky with up to 40 shooting stars an hour as Earth passes through the debris trail left by Halley's Comet.

Halley's Comet last passed Earth in 1986.

According to the AMS, the next major meteor shower will not peak until late July.

That's the reason they appear on certain dates and return annually - as these comets are on an orbit and leave debris in certain parts of space.

In October, the earth will again pass through Halley's dust trail for a meteor shower called the Orionids which, Stoitsis said, did not tend to deliver as many meteors to the sky as the Eta Aquariids.

These pieces enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up. And while the Eta Aquarid meteor shower favours the Southern Hemisphere (most of South America, one-third of Africa, all of Antarctica, parts of Indonesia and all of Australia/Oceania), not all hope is lost.

Halley's Comet, officially known as 1P/Halley, was observed by Edmond Halley in 1682. The comet itself formed at the same time as the solar system, about 4,500m years ago.

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This week, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which occurs annually between April 19 and May 28, brightens our skies and is one of the highlights of the year for seasoned sky watchers.

The Moon will be in its waxing gibbous phase during the peak of the shower but it will be below the horizon before dawn and shouldn't damper the viewing. Vlahos recommends finding a dark spot and looking to the north-east - you could see five to seven meteors in urban and suburban areas (and 15 to 18 in rural areas).

Skywatchers get ready - you may be able to see some shooting stars in the early morning hours of May 5.

How's the weather on Tuesday 5 May?

Since we can't get away from the city and light pollution, you are left with no other choice but to view from your garden, balcony or window. If you have a telescope, by all means, use it. For a chance to see the comet, scan the skies to the east with your binoculars or telescope, about 20 degrees up from the horizon (it won't be visible to the naked eye). But don't look directly at the Lyra constellation either. Since this process can take much longer than the original meteor flash, the "train" appears fainter, and it can persist for some time after the meteor flash ends.

There may not be a whole lot going on in our social lives right now, but May 2020's skies will be positively raving for stargazers. The bright moon may make it hard to see some of the fainter meteors, but it should not completely wash out the shower.

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