|Eta Aquarids (ETA)|
|Parent body||Halley's Comet|
(near Eta Aquarii)
|Right ascension||22h 20m|
|Occurs during||April 21 – May 20|
|Date of peak||May 6|
|Zenithal hourly rate||30|
|See also: List of meteor showers|
The shower is visible from about April 21st to about May 20th each year with peak activity on or around May 6. Unlike most major annual meteor showers, there is no sharp peak for this shower, but rather a plateau of good rates that last approximately one week centered on May 7. The meteors we currently see as members of the Eta Aquariid shower separated from Halley’s Comet hundreds of years ago. The current orbit of Halley’s Comet does not pass close enough to the Earth to be a source of meteoric activity.
Although this shower is not as spectacular as the Leonids, it is not an ordinary event. The Eta Aquarids get their name because their radiant appears to lie in the constellation Aquarius, near one of the constellation's brightest stars, Eta Aquarii. The shower peaks at about a rate of around a meteor per minute, although such rates are rarely seen from northern latitudes due to the low altitude of the radiant.
The Eta Aquarids are best viewed in the pre-dawn hours away from the glow of city lights. For northern observers, the radiant of the shower is only above the horizon for the few hours before dawn, and early-rising observers are often rewarded with rates that climb as the radiant rises before sunrise. The shower is best viewed from the equator to 30 degrees south latitude.
In 2005, the shower was favorably viewable because of a new moon on May 8. In 2011, the maximum of the shower was again favoured by a May 3 new moon, which meant that the period around maximum was visible in moon-free pre-dawn skies. In 2012 they were seen on May 6, 2012 along with a supermoon around dusk. On May 6, 2013 there was a 10% waning crescent moon in the pre-dawn sky.
- Worldwide viewing times for the 2013 Eta Aquarids meteor shower
- Observing and History of the Eta Aquarids
- Detailed information on the 2011 maximum of the Eta Aquarids, courtesy of the International Meteor Organization
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