Early in the morning of Thursday (May 6), just before dawn illuminates the eastern sky, we have the opportunity to see some remnants of their most famous. Comets Early morning sky lights up briefly.
Halley’s Comet It made its last pass through the inner solar system in 1986 and is not expected to return until summer 2061. However, every time Halley sweeps the sun, it leaves a dusty trail – let’s call it “cosmic trash” – dragging behind the comet.
And it turns out that the orbit of Halley’s comet is approaching Earth’s orbit in two places. A point falls between mid-October and late October and produces a meteor show that appears in shape Orionides. The other point comes in early May and it yields And Aquarius.
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When and where to see
Under ideal conditions (a dark, moonless sky) about 30 to 60 of them are very fast Meteors It could be seen by the hour at the peak of the announcement on May 6. The shower appears several days before and after May 6 at about a quarter of its maximum strength. This year will be a very good year because the moon will be inside you The descending stage of the crescentOnly 28% are lit and provide little interference to make the fast light streaks visible.
From places south of the equator, Eta-Aquarids did very well; The Australians rated it the best meteor show of the year.
But for those looking north of the equator, it’s completely different.
what is the point
The radiation (the point of emission of these meteors) is in the “water bowl” of the constellation WassermanWhich begins to rise above the eastern horizon at around 3 am, but unfortunately never rises in temperate northern latitudes. Just after four in the morning, dawn begins to clear the sky.
So if you are expecting up to 60 meteors per hour, forget about it. When the radiation is very low above the horizon, the majority of these meteorites orbit below the horizon and out of sight.
In fact, in North America, typical ETA aquarid rates are only 10 meteors per hour at 26 ° N latitude (Miami, Florida or Brownsville, Texas), five per hour at 35 ° N latitude (Los Angeles or Cape Hatteras, North Carolina). . Practically zero north of 40 degrees (New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia).
So you might ask, “What’s the point of waking up before sunrise to watch?” The answer is that you may still be seeing something amazing.
Catch the Erdgrazer
For the most part, perhaps the best hope is to catch a glimpse of a meteorite emerging from the beam and colliding with the meteorite. Earth’s atmosphere Horizontally – similar to an insect cleaning a car’s side window. Meteor watchers call these falling stars “Earthgrazers”. They leave very long, colorful paths that hug the horizon rather than shoot overhead. They are rarely much in number, but if you are lucky enough to spot just one or two, it pays to get up and walk out before the first dawn.
If you spot one early the next morning, just remember you’ll likely see the glowing path produced by material from the core of Halley’s comet. When these small comets collide with Earth, friction with our atmosphere turns them into white heat, creating the effect known as “falling stars”.
The falling stars, which we call ETA Aquarids, are actually an encounter with the relics of a famous visitor from the depths of space and the beginning of creation.
Joe Rao is a trainer and guest speaker in New York City. Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The Journal of Natural History, The Peasant calendar And other publications. Follow us on Twitter Embed a Tweet And so on The social networking site Facebook.