Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower 2020: Watch it peak in night skies

Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times

Posted at May 04 2020 01:45 PM

Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower 2020: Watch it peak in night skies 1
In a photo from NASA, Halley's comet during its closest approach to the inner solar system in 1986. Meteor showers can light up night skies from dusk to dawn, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse. NASA/The New York Times

All year long, as Earth revolves around the sun, it passes through streams of cosmic debris — trails of rocks and ice left behind by comets. When Earth passes through them, the bits of debris, which can be as small as grains of sand, pierce the sky at such speeds that they burst, creating a meteor shower.

The next shower you might be able to see is known as the Eta Aquariids, remnants from Halley’s comet. Active from April 19 to May 28, it is expected to be at its peak from Monday night into Tuesday. The Southern Hemisphere will get the best display, but it is visible in the North, too.

Meteor showers tend to be most visible after midnight and before dawn. The best way to see them is from a location that has a clear view of the entire night sky, ideally somewhere away from city lights and traffic. To maximize your chances, look for a spot that offers a wide, unobstructed view.

Use your naked eye; binoculars or telescopes tend to limit the field of view. You might need to spend about half an hour in the dark to let your eyes get used to the reduced light. If moonlight and the weather obscure the display, there are usually meteor livestreams like the ones hosted by NASA and the online telescope network Slooh.