Sky watchers will want to look up at the sky this week to see debris from the tail of Comet Halley lighting up the night sky. The meteor shower resulting from the debris is called Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Rain meteors known for their high speed. They travel at about 148,000 mph when they enter Earth’s atmosphere.
The high speed of meteors means that they often leave “trains” in motion, which can last from several seconds to minutes behind them in the atmosphere. The trains are made of glowing fragments left behind on the wake of the meteor. Eta Aquarid normally produces about 30 meteors per hour at its peak.
Interestingly, the debris left by Comet Halley interacts with Earth’s atmosphere each year, while the comet itself rarely appears in Earth’s sky. The debris left behind happens because each time the comet returns to the internal solar system, the nucleus spills a layer of ice and rock into space.
The debris that is spilled turns into the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in May and the Orionids in October. The next time Halley’s comet will pass into the inner solar system will happen in 2061. The last time it passed through the inner solar system was in 1986. The best view of Eta Aquarid meteor shower will happen before dawn on Wednesday, 5 of May.
The meteor shower starts on May 4 and can last until May 6. In both the northern and southern hemispheres, the best time to see meteor showers is before dawn. The southern hemisphere has a better chance of seeing meteors than the northern hemisphere. As with any view of the sky, the best place to see it will be in an area without light pollution.