(WKBN) – Each year during April and May sky gazers are treated to a dazzling display from the eta Aquariid meteor shower.
“A meteor shower is like a normal rain shower, with 50-60 meteors per hour,” said Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in a NASA blog post. “An outburst is like a thunderstorm, with greater than normal meteor activity expected. A meteor storm is like a tornado, where meteor rates are over one thousand per hour.”
The meteor shower starts around April 15 and goes through May 27 each year. Projections for the peak of the eta Aquariid shower vary a bit depending, but the American Meteor Society predicts it will happen on May 6.
How many meteors will we see?
People in the Northern Hemisphere will see a few fireballs leave glowing trains in their wake, but not as many as those who live south of the equator as this is a better shower for the Southern Hemisphere.
Under a dark sky, it is possible to see 10 to 20 meteors per hour in the southern United States. We will see less in the northern part of the country across Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Out west, Californians who live far from big cities and other sources of light pollution will see roughly 10 fireballs per hour, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.
The full flower moon will limit our viewing
The other item that will limit our viewing will be the full flower moon. It will be close to being full, throwing a lot of light into the sky. This will reduce our chances of catching a shooting star from this shower. There is a chance to see a few.
When is the full moon?
The full moon will take place on May 5, 2023. The full moon during May is known as the Full Flower Moon.
When is the best time to catch the meteor shower?
The best time to see one would be in the hours before sunrise on May 6-7.
What causes the meteor shower?
This shower is the result of the earth passing through the debris trail of Halley’s Comet. These flying space pieces of debris pass through the earth’s atmosphere and become meteors. I talked about these in a previous episode of Weather For Kids.
Halley’s Comet only passes through every 75 to 76 years. The last time was in 1986 when we could see it with our eyes from the Earth. It won’t be around again until 2061.