Watch the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Reach Its Peak

Our universe might be chock-full of cosmic wonder, but you can only observe a fraction of astronomical phenomena with your naked eye. Meteor showers, natural fireworks that streak brightly across the night sky, are one of them.

The latest observable meteor shower will be the Eta Aquarids, which have been active since April 19 and are forecast to continue until May 28. They reach their peak May 4 to 5, or Saturday night into Sunday morning.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is known for its fast fireballs, which occur as Earth passes through the rubble left by Halley’s Comet.

Sometimes spelled Eta Aquariid, this shower is most easily seen from the southern tropics. But a lower rate of meteors will also be visible in the Northern Hemisphere close to sunrise. With the moon just a thin sliver in the sky, viewers could witness a strong show this year.

Where meteor showers come from

There is a chance you might see a meteor on any given night, but you are most likely to catch one during a shower. Meteor showers are caused by Earth passing through the rubble trailing a comet or asteroid as it swings around the sun. This debris, which can be as small as a grain of sand, leaves behind a glowing stream of light as it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Meteor showers occur around the same time every year and can last for days or weeks. But there is only a small window when each shower is at its peak, which happens when Earth reaches the densest part of the cosmic debris. The peak is the best time to look for a shower. From our point of view on Earth, the meteors will appear to come from the same point in the sky.

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