Eta Aquariid meteor shower 2020: When and where to see it in the UK

What is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, when does it happen and how can I see it in 2020?

What is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower?

The Eta Aquariids is a moderately active meteor shower associated with the Comet Halley.

When is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower in 2020?

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower will peak between midnight and dawn on 5-6 May 2020.

This shower favours the Southern Hemisphere and will appear low in the sky for Northerly latitudes (such as the UK) in the early predawn hours.

Nevertheless, it should still be possible to see the shower in the eastern sky, even when the radiant is below the horizon.

Meteors are pieces of debris which enter our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

Find out the difference between an asteroid, a comet, a meteor, and a meteorite.

Where does the name Eta Aquariid come from?

Like with most meteor showers, the name comes from the constellation in the night sky that it appears to radiate from. In this case, it’s the Aquarius constellation. But why isn’t it called the 'Aquarid' meteor shower? This is because, more specifically, the name comes from one of the stars from this constellation: Eta Aquarii.

When is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower?

SHOWER NAME

DATE OF MAXIMUM

NORMAL LIMITS

PEAK RATE/HOUR

DESCRIPTION

Eta Aquariids

5 May

24 Apr - 20 May 

40

Low in sky. Associated with Comet Halley

Find out more about other meteors and meteorites around the year

How can I see the Eta Aquariid meteor shower?

Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it's best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. 

Where is best to watch the Eta Aquariid meteor shower?

For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution.

If you manage to get any pictures of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower we'd love to see them.

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Eta Aquariids facts

Image of the Aquarius constellation

  • Unlike most major annual meteor showers, there is no sharp peak for this shower, but rather a plateau of good rates that last approximately one week centered on 6-7 May.
  • The Eta Aquariids is one of two meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley. The other is the Orionid meteor shower which comes in October.
  • The beautiful streaks we see in the night sky can actually be caused by particles as small as a grain of sand!

Banner image: Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower in Mount Bromo © Justin Ng