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You Can See Remnants of Halley's Comet Fly by This Week. Here's Where to Look.

News Astronomy
by Olivia Harden Apr 16, 2022

A glorious astronomical event is set to grace us with its presence this spring. The Eta Aquarids meteor shower’s annual return is upon us from April 19 to May 28. But to sneak a peek at these shooting stars, you’ll need to either stay up late or wake up early.

Eta Aquarids meteors are made up of the remnants of comet 1P/Halley. Although Halley’s Comet is only viewable once every 76 years (it won’t make its next return until 2061), you can see what it has left behind during its peak season in early May, according to NASA. But what makes Eta Aquarid meteors special are their speed. Traveling at about 148,000 mph (66 kilometers per second) into Earth’s atmosphere, the meteors will leave behind glowing “trains” for several seconds to minutes. You can see anywhere from 10 to 30 meteors per hour depending on what side of the globe you’re on.

To best find the Eta Aquarids meteors, you’ll need to search for the constellation of Aquarius, which is the meteor’s radiant. You can use the “square” in the constellation Pegasus to guide you toward Aquarius, according to EarthSky, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres during the pre-dawn hours. The Southern Hemisphere is better for viewing the gorgeous meteors, whereas The Northern Hemisphere will only have an hourly rate of about 10 meteors.

Try to head out around 2 AM local time and get as far from light pollution as possible (here are some tips from the International Dark Sky Association). You’ll need your eyes to be fully adjusted to the night, so allow for at least 20 minutes. Bring your sleeping bag, blanket, and lawn chairs to lie flat on your back with your feet facing east, and avoid looking at your phone or using a flashlight as much as possible so your eyes stay well adjusted. With some patience and a little luck, you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of meteors until dawn.

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