The Eta Aquarids in May
by Dave Blane – 01-05-2014
The third major meteor shower of 2014, the Eta Aquarids, will peak just before dawn on May 5th but the shower is active from as early as April 21st to as late as May 12th. On the night of May 4-5 the five day old Moon will set before prime viewing time and will not interfere with observations of the Eta Aquarids.
The radiant point for the Eta Aquarids is near the star Hydra (η Aquarii) in the constellation Aquarius (the Water Bearer) and with a zenith hourly rate (ZHR) of 55 meteors per hour, an observer might expect to see a meteor every minute or two.
Aquarid meteors are fast movers, entering the earth’s atmosphere at about than 66 km/s (148,000 mph). Eta Aquarids are bright, yellow in colour, and can leave persistent trains behind lasting up to a minute.
The source of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is Halley’s Comet and this shower is actually one of two meteor showers associated with Halley’s Comet, the second being the Orionids in October.
This represents the view from mid-southern latitudes at about 4:00 a.m. local time around May 6. The graphic does not represent the view at the time of maximum, but is simply meant to help prospective observers to find the radiant location. The red line across the bottom of the image represents the horizon.