Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Eta Aquarid Meteors.

The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be at a peak on Monday 6 May 2013, with up to 55 meteors per hour at it's peak, radiating from the constellation of Aquarius. This does not spend long above the horizon in the northern hemisphere at this time of year, but potentially could produce good shows before dawn on the 4-6 May, with longer displays in the southern hemisphere.

The radiant point of the Eta Aquarid Meteors. Astronomy Central.

The meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through the trail of Halley's Comet, where it encounters thousands of tiny dust particles shed from the comet as its icy surface is melted (strictly sublimated) by the heat of the Sun. Halley's Comet only visits the inner Solar System every 75 years (most recently in 1986 and next in 2061), but the trail of particles shed by it forms a constant flow, which the Earth crosses twice each year; in May when it causes the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower and in October when it causes the Orionids.

Diagram showing the orbit and current path of Halley's Comet relative to the rest of the Solar System. Image created using the JPL Small-Body Database Browser.


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