Aquarid Meteor Shower 2018 at its peak

 

Most of the major meteor showers taking place this year from April to October are on the weekend. It would be a great help in allowing you to catch sight of a shooting star in the wee hours of the morning without worrying about being late to school or office.

Right before daybreak on 6th May 2018, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak. This display will remain active in the first week of May. It produces long, and noticeable streaks whose paths are directed away from Aquarius’ “water jar.”

However, it is necessary to note that the Eta Aquarids will be poorly visible this year, because of light reflected off a waning gibbous moon. It might cause the morning sky to light up and likely squelch fainter streaks of the meteor shower from being visible. Without the presence of a bright moon, the Eta Aquarids happen to be the richest meteor display for those who observe in the Southern Hemisphere.

The moonlight, however, happens to be only one of the obstacles hampering the view of the shower. The second problem being if you stay north of the equator, the meteor rates tend to decrease. This is particularly true for north temperate latitudes as the Eta Aquarid radiant, hardly ever reaches a high altitude above the southeast horizon.

People usually report around ten meteors per hour at 26 degrees north. A little farther north (35 degrees latitude, i.e., the southern border of Tennessee), observers might see five meteors an hour. Above the 40th parallel north, the line of latitude which lies on Kansas and Nebraska observers might not even get to see any meteors; it gets so scarce.

Even if you happen to live in a place north of the Equator, you should still try your luck and take a look as you might get lucky and get to see an “Earthgrazer.” They are meteors which emerge from the Aquarid which cut through the atmosphere horizontally. It is similar to an insect skimming one of the side windows of a vehicle. They tend to leave long-lasting, colorful trails. The Earth-grazing meteors are usually quite long and seem to hug the horizon instead of shooting overhead, where most observers and photographers tend to aim their cameras.

According to Bill Cooke, member of the Space Environments team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Earth grazers are very small in number. But they are that spectacular that even a single sighting or two will remain in your memory for a long time to come.