Between the Lyrid Meteor Shower and the five planet alignment, the night sky has been putting on quite a show for us, and it’s not ready to stop now. Tonight, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower is peaking, and there may be twice as many meteors visible to the eye as compared to previous years.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower peaks during early May each year when Earth travels through debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, and they’re known for their speed (traveling at about 148,000 mph) that leave glowing “trains” lasting for several seconds to minutes.
Typically, about 30 meteors can be seen per hour during their peak, but this year is set to be even more stunning than usual.
According to Bill Cooke, the lead for the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Eta Aquarids will potentially experience a significant outburst this year caused by particles ejected from Comet Halley in 390 BC–this means normal meteor rates could be doubled.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower is active between April 15 and May 27 and peaks tonight, Friday, May 5 through tomorrow, May 6.
The meteor shower will be visible during the pre-dawn hours as “Earthgrazers,” which are long meteors that appear to skim the surface of the Earth at the horizon.
And though NYC is known for being pretty hefty in the light pollution department, you may still have a chance to catch them.
To view the meteor shower, experts suggest you lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up at 2 a.m. local time. After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you’ll begin to see meteors–no telescopes or binoculars needed! Meteor rates will continue to increase until dawn.
Observers can expect to see around 10 to 30 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak.