The Eta Aquarids 2018, the first meteor shower in May

Imagen de la lluvia de estrellas fugaces Gemínidas sobre el volcán Teide (Tenerife, Islas Canarias) en diciembre de 2013. Crédito: J.C. Casado.
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The collision of fragments of comets, or asteroids, with the Earth’s atmosphere produces a celestial spectacle which we call a meteor shower. In the course of the year there are several, such as the Perseids in August, and the Geminids in December. One of the most important of these is the Eta-Aquarids shower, which produces activity between April 19th and May 28th. In 2018 the Eta-Aquarids will show their máximum activity on May 6th at 09.00 hours Canary local time( 08:00 hrs U.T.), so the best time to observe them will be around dawn on Sunday.

The Eta-Aquarids originate in the tiny fragments, meteoroids, which have drifted loose from the famous Halley’s comet (1p/Halley) which orbits the Sun every 76 years. It last came close to the earth in 1986. The point in the sky from which the meteors appear to emanate, their “radiant” is situated in the constellation of Aquarius. Observers in the southern hemisphere will be lucky enough to see the largest number of these “shooting stars”.

In the northern hemisphere the best moment to observe the shower will be just before dawn, because by then the radiant will be above the horizon. The Moon (with 50% of its disc illuminated) will not present a problema of visibility for the meteors. On average an observer at a dark site, without light pollution, will be able to see 1 meteor every ten minutes.

Live transmission: 6 May 03:00 UT (04:00 Canary local time, 05:00 Peninsular time).