While the supermoon will undoubtedly be the main attraction in the night sky tonight, there’s another reason to keep your eyes fixed on the stars over the weekend: the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, which is expected to kick into high gear tonight.
Eta Aquarid meteors, apart from making for a nice visual treat, are a little more special than most meteor showers: they’re fast-moving (roughly 148,000 mph), they tend to leave large streaks in the sky, and they’re actually fragments of Halley’s Comet.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower may not be too much of a show–scientists are expecting only about 10 meteors per hour, and that’s assuming you can even see it. The supermoon is expected to be bright enough to wash out the smaller meteors on Saturday.
Still, there will be a show to be seen in the night sky over the weekend, and don’t let the supermoon keep you from looking elsewhere for the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
“Our fireball cameras have already detected four bright ones. So I would say that the odds are pretty good that folks can see a bit of Halley’s Comet over the next few days, if they care to take the time to look,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. “They will be the big and bright ones, fewer in number with a rate of just a few per hour, but they will be there.”
The best time to view the meteor shower is in the very late / early morning hours, a few hours before dawn. For the best look at the Aquarid meteor shower, scientists suggest going to an area far away from city lights, ideally with crystal clear skies.
Will you be checking out the Eta Aquarid meteor shower? What about the supermoon?
[Image credit: NASA/MSFC/B. Cook]