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Monday, May 5, 2014

Watch This Meteor Shower As It Peaks Tonight

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/DAVID KINGHAM

Here's something for our resident insomniacs to look forward to: Later tonight/early tomorrow morning, the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower will delight the U.S. with its never-disappointing celestial event.

The cosmic show is expected to peak sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning, when meteors will travel at about 148,000 miles per hour into the Earth's atmosphere. That probably means nothing to the average (sleeping) earthling until they see how these meteors leave glowing "trains" of debris in the sky, according to NASA.

Here's some stargazing guidance from NASA:

The moon will set after midnight, which will leave dark skies for optimal viewing. (Best viewing takes place in the hour or two before dawn.) Some Eta Aquarid meteors may be visible for a few days before and after 6 May, due to this shower's broad peak.

The Eta Aquarids are viewable in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres during the pre-dawn hours. The Southern Hemisphere is preferable for viewing the Eta Aquarids. The Northern Hemisphere has an hourly rate of only about 10 meteors. This is due to the location of the radiant at different latitudes. The constellation of Aquarius -- home to the radiant of the Eta Aquarids -- is higher up in the sky in the Southern Hemisphere than it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, Eta Aquarid meteors can be seen as "earthgrazers." Earthgrazers are long meteors that appear to skim the surface of the Earth at the horizon.

And now for a viewing map:

click to enlarge ACCUWEATHER
  • Accuweather

You can even use this nifty NASA calculator to figure out where would be the best place for you to see the shower.

So there you have it: a great reason to get up extra early tomorrow morning -- or not go to bed at all tonight.


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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Bio:
Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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