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How to view Eta Aquarid meteor shower



Lyrid meteor shower may be over, but your chance to see falling stars this spring is not. Eta Aquarids meteors arrived on April 19 and will be visible until May 28, with the peak occurring at dawn on May 6.

"This year's visibility will be good," said Bill Cooke, a meteor expert at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in an interview with NBC News MACH. "There will be no moonlight to wash the weaker meteors."

While people in the southern hemisphere will have the best chance to see the Eta Aquarids, meteors will also show a spectacle for those in the United States and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

"All you need is a clear, dark sky," Cooke said, adding that weather permitting, observers can expect up to 40 meteors per hour during the peak.

The Eta Aquarids seem to come from the direction of a bright star called Eta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius. But like all meteors, they are just bits of dust that move quickly, creating bright rays of light as they reach Earth's atmosphere and burn.

The dust particles come from the tail of a comet – in this case, Halley's, which approaches the Earth every 75 years in its long elliptical orbit around the sun. Halley's Comet was known in ancient times, but got its present name after the 18th century British astronomer Edmond Halley noticed the periodic returns of the comet.

Halley's comet arrived in 1986 and will make its next appearance in 2061. But even if the comet returns only periodically, the Earth crosses its path every year to produce the Eta Aquarids.

No telescope or other viewing equipment is needed to visualize meteor showers. Just find a dark place with an unobstructed view of the sky and look up.

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