Australia Today

How to Catch the Year's Most Spectacular Meteor Shower in Australia

You could see as many as 50 shooting stars per hour.
May 5, 2020, 2:10am
meteor shower
Image via Flickr user Jeff Sullivan, CC licence 2.0 (cropped)

Tomorrow morning, at about 4 AM, the skies around Australia are expected to light up with one of the year’s most dazzling meteor showers. In the early hours of Wednesday and Thursday, chunks of rock and ice from Halley’s Comet will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, producing dozens of shooting stars every hour in an annual celestial event known as Eta Aquariids: a meteor shower which typically lasts up to a week.

Dr Brad Tucker, an astronomer from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said the peak of the light show will probably be early Wednesday morning—although he suggested that Thursday morning will also be “very good”.

"The time to see the meteors will start around 4AM local time,” he said in a media release. “The Moon will have set as the shower starts to peak, which means the sky will be nice and dark and it will allow everyone to see the fainter meteors."

Dr Tucker suggested that anyone interested in getting up and having a squiz at the Eta Aquariids should give their eyes about 10 minutes to adjust to the darkness, before looking to the East. Those in urban areas should get away from the city lights as much as possible, finding a darker location such as an oval to increase their chances of seeing the shooting stars.

“This will be one of the best meteor showers that we will see this year,” said Dr Tucker. "The meteor shower is visible all across Australia. In a dark location, you can expect up to 50 shooting stars per hour."

The Eta Aquariids—so named because the shower appears to originate out of an area near Eta Aquarii, one of the Aquarius constellation’s brightest stars—is one of two meteor showers produced by Halley’s Comet each year. The other, named the Orionids, usually takes place later in the year.

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