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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Eta Aquarids. A special night of shooting stars

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The peak of Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower associated with Halley's Comet, is approaching. Although these shooting stars are easiest to observe in the southern hemisphere, this year it is also worth taking a look at the sky in Poland – astronomers predict that this year's rain may be the strongest since the beginning of the century.

In April, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, associated with the famous Halley's Comet, began activity. The phenomenon is usually visible throughout May, and this year its maximum will fall on Sunday, May 5. Meteors move very fast, at 66 kilometers per second, and at a maximum they can reach 50 kilometers per hour.

Highest activity

Eta Aquarids are most conveniently observed in the southern hemisphere – in Australia they are one of the most popular autumn swarms. North of the equator, admiring the phenomenon is made more difficult by the fact that its radiant (the point from which meteors seem to “fly” out) does not rise until the morning, when the sky begins to lighten. In such conditions, only the brightest meteors are visible.

This year, the Eta Aquarids rain may be exceptionally impressive. Scientists modeling meteor activity have indicated that there will likely be more shooting stars than usual, and this year's shower may turn out to be the strongest in the 21st century. The approaching new moon will also make it easier to admire them.

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How to observe Eta Aquarids in the Northern Hemisphere? The best time to see them is just before dawn, when it is not yet too bright. Observations should be made away from city lights. The fun may be spoiled by a cloudy sky.

Eta Aquarids in the southern hemisphere – photo. illustrativeShutterstock

The Conversation, earthsky.org, PAP, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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