The Eta Aquarids meteor shower is expected to peak on May 5, delivering up to 40 shooting stars per hour.
This year could be especially spectacular with experts predicting a meteor “burst”.
If you’re going out to see the display, here are NASA’s top tips for getting the best look.
A spectacular meteor shower is about to peak, giving sky watchers the opportunity to see up to 40 shooting stars every hour.
The dazzling spectacle is known as Eta Aquarids and takes place in May each year as Earth travels through the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet,
This year is shaping up to be even more jaw-dropping than usual, with experts predicting a “blowout” that could double the number of meteors in the sky.
“When you go out during Eta Aquarids this year, you’ll see particles from Halley’s Comet that began their journey in the time of King David,” Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, told Insider.
The meteor shower is active this year from April 15 to May 27, but is expected to peak on May 5.
Here’s how to get the best view of this remarkable event, according to NASA.
Get ready for a breathtaking show
Eta Aquarids are one of the few reverses that favor the Southern Hemisphere. But this year, experts say that even in the northern hemisphere, there could be twice as many meteors visible as in previous years.
That’s because Jupiter pushed and concentrated ancient debris from Halley’s Comet into our planet’s path.
Halley’s Comet passes the Earth about every 76 years, and each time it leaves a little dust in its wake. This particular dust was left behind by the comet about 3,000 years ago, according to Cooke.
“This year, Jupiter has piled this stuff 3,000 years ahead of us and we’re going to meet,” Cooke said, noting there’s no risk associated with meteor showers.
Go out a few hours before dawn
“Eta Aquarids aren’t very respectful of their sleep because you have to get up in the wee hours of the morning — the hours before dawn — to see them,” Cooke said.
The rain is expected to peak around 4 a.m. UTC on May 5, but Cooke advised that the best time to go outside is between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. local time.
Unfortunately, the moon will be full this year, which means there’s a chance it will outnumber the meteors.
“The light from the full moon increases the sky background, which washes out the faint meteors,” Cooke said.
However, because of the explosion, you still have the potential to see up to 40 meteors an hour, Cooke said.
“The important thing is that you will see meteors if you go out and look,” he added.
Look for streaks and fireballs
Watch out for the long trains hurtling through the sky caused by the debris from the burning meteor in the atmosphere.
“You can think of meteors as balls of snowy earth, but loosely held together,” Cooke said.
“When they hit the atmosphere, they not only burn, but they break up, they fragment. And if they’re big and dusty, they create these lingering trains, which are dust that they’ve left behind,” he said.
Rain can also bring the occasional “fireball,” which is a bright flash that occurs when the meteor explodes by impacting the atmosphere.
Lie on your back and look up
For the best chance of seeing a shooting star, move away from city lights. Lie flat on your back — bring a blanket, patio chair, or sleeping bag — and look straight up at the sky. No need to bring glasses or a telescope as meteors are best seen with the naked eye.
NASA recommends pointing your feet east for the best view of the shower, though Cooke says the most important thing is to look away from the moon.
Shooting stars can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you want something to point your gaze to, look for the constellation Aquarius, after which the shower is named.
Be patient and let your eyes adjust
Chances are you weren’t driving in complete darkness and would have looked at your phone to get you where you need to be.
This means your eyes will need some time to adjust.
“People often say, ‘I went out to look at this or that meteor shower and I didn’t see any. I was texting my friends and they didn’t see it either.’ Well, maybe it’s because you were looking at your phone all the time instead of looking up,” Cooke said.
Be patient. NASA says you should give your eyes at least 30 minutes to adjust to the dark sky before expecting to spot shooting stars.
Next year’s outburst will be ‘even louder’
If you can’t go see the Eta Aquarids this year, don’t despair: experts think the same debris will be in our planet’s path next year.
“Next year there will be an even bigger outburst,” Cooke said
“After that, the next time there is an explosion it will be between 2044 and 2046. So you will have to wait more than 20 years to see another explosion of Eta Aquarids,” he added.
Read the original article on Business Insider