How To See & Enjoy The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

Last month the heavens blessed us with a pink supermoon, and now they’re back for round two, babyyyy.

During the early morning of Wednesday, May 6th, we’re gonna be able to watch one of the best light shows in the galaxy: the Eta Aquarids meteor shower.

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower happens every May and is visible across Australia, making it a regular highlight for a lot of stargazers. Even with a bit of obstruction from a pretty full moon (the moon wants ur attention), it’s set to be a pretty amazing light show. Think streaks of light across the sky some from horizon to horizon, perfect for reminding us of the minute frailty of humanity.

What is the Eta Aquarids meteor shower?

The light show happens because we’re passing through the debris stream left by Halley’s Comet. This happens twice a year, the reason it’s more visible in May is that we’re meeting the stream head-on. Halley’s comet itself hasn’t been in our skies since 1986 and only comes to us every 76 years. The debris and dust we’re passing through though is an annual occurrence, in case you want to drop it in your calendar.

They get their name because the point from which it looks like the meteors come from—what’s known as their “radiant”—is in the constellation of Aquarius, near one of it’s brightest stars: Eta Aquarii. Because of this, they’re also sometimes called the Eta Aquariids.

When to see it

You may wanna put on your warmest tracksuit and make a coffee, cos these stars are up early. The best time to see the shower is in the very early morning on Wednesday, so, tomorrow. The best window of time is between 2 am and 5 am. That said, if you oversleep, you’ll also be able to catch it for the next few days—just not as vibrantly as tomorrow.

How to see it

While the Eta Aquarids meteor showers are one of the best ones you can watch in the Southern Hemisphere, we are a little bit hampered by the moon.

The best thing to do, according to the professionals, is to try to block out the light of the moon with a tree or something else in your field of vision. It also helps to try and use Jupiter, Saturn and Mars as landmarks above the eastern horizon. This is where you should be able to see the meteors start their burn.

It’s also an exercise in patience: Jacquie Milner an astronomer at the Mount Burnett Observatory says that the meteor streaks often come in clusters, “So you might see nothing for 20 minutes then get three at once.”

Monisha is a writer with a background in publishing and digital media. A chronic Pisces, she’s into trying to be a better person and sparkling water.

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