Eta Aquarid meteor shower May 2018

Dark sky gazing: Meteor showers in Barrington Tops.

Stargazers love a good meteor shower, and while the Perseids or Leonids often get the most mentions, another exquisite one is just ramping up. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs every autumn between April 19 and May 28, peaking around May 7.

It’s best seen from the southern hemisphere around -30 degrees latitude, so the dark skies of Barrington Tops are perfectly situated.

This meteor shower gets its name from the place its material appears to originate from — a bright star called Eta Aquarii, located in the constellation Aquarius. The coolest part about the event is that it’s “parent” comet is Comet Halley — you know, that one that’s visible from Earth every 76 years. While the comet itself won’t be viewable from Earth again until 2061, we can still check out the Aquarids, tiny pieces of icy debris that parted ways with Comet Halley long ago.

Skywatchers should be able to see up to 30 meteors per hour. While the name “shooting stars” is the popular way to describe these little guys, the meteors (technically called meteoroids) are actually just tiny grains of dust and ice burning up in our atmosphere.

The meteors in the Eta Aquarid shower are actually quite bright, and since they move very quickly — about 66 kilometres per secondΒ  — they leave very long “tails” in the sky.

The best time for viewing is before the moon rises, to avoid the competing moonlight. Around Barrington Tops this means on 6 May before 10.05pm; 7 May before 10.58pm and 8 May before 11.53pm.Β Without the moon’s light getting in the way, these meteors will finally have their chance to shine.

And the best way to see the meteors? Space observers state the best way is to lie flat on your back and look straight up, to maximise your field of vision and not strain your neck.

Of course, the darker your viewing location the better, so head high to the Tops for a full-blown stargazing experience of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

#stargazing #darkskies #etaaquarid #etaaquariid #barringtontops #backtonature #wildernessculture

With thanks to gizmodo.com.au, space.com & wikipedia

Image: http://www.flicker.com/rockyraybell