Friday, 1 May 2015

2015's Eta Aquarid Meteors.

The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be at a peak on Tuesday 5/Wednesday 6 May 2014, with up to 45 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 is often a good display in the Southern Hemisphere. The Eta Aquarids are potentially visible between 19 April and 28 May, but are extremely hard to spot away from the peak of activity, which this year falls directly after the full Moon on 4 May, though the shower is generally best just before dawn, when the Moon will have set.

The radiant point (point from which the meteors appear to radiate) for the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. The Leisurely Scientist.

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 Orionid Meteor Shower.

The orbit and current position of Halley's Comet. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

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  1. what are the chances of meteors falling on earth when earth crosses it?

  2. Not very likely. NASA monitors all of the solar system, including meteors & meteorites. Meteor showers occur when dust or particles from asteroids or comets enter Earth's atmosphere at very high speed. When they reach earth's atmosphere, the reaction to the elements causes them to disintegrate. The rate in which they disintegrate depends on their composition, speed & direction of travel; If they were large enough or other factors wouldn't allow time for disintegration during the distance they travel before reaching the earth, They'd be classified as meteorites, which are rare & taken more seriously, as are comets. The best showers to see are in August & December. Especially December - the Geminid shower, which has the most meteors per hour. (: