Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower Peak: When To Look Up In NorCal
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Northern California residents, there's another shooting star show on the horizon this week to look forward to. The National Weather Service's seven-day forecast calls for mostly sunny weather in the Bay Area this week with partial cloud cover on Thursday and Friday. As with most meteor showers, the best Eta Aquariids viewing times are in the predawn hours around the peak. For the best chances to see shooting stars, find a dark sky free of city lights.
At the peak, expect to see 10 or 30 shooting stars an hour. The American Meteor Society notes that the Eta Aquariids are "swift meteors that produce a high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. If that's not reason enough to get up early (or stay up super late) and head out to a dark sky, there's this: The Eta Aquariids are the last chance to look for meteors until the Delta Aquariid meteor shower in late July. The flash of light known as a meteor occurs when meteoroids — "space rocks" ranging in size from a dust grain to a small asteroid — enter the Earth's atmosphere, or that of another planet, at a high speed and burn up.
Meteor showers occur annually or at regular intervals when Earth passes through the dusty debris trails left by a comet and, in a few cases, asteroids. Halley's Comet, which visits our solar system every 75 years or so, is the parent of both the Eta Aquariid meteor shower and the Orionid meteor shower in October. The Eta Aquariids appear to radiate from the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer, the 10th largest in the sky but still difficult to find with the naked eye because none of its stars are especially bright. Don't get hung up on trying to find the constellation, though.
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