What is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, when does it happen and how can I see it in 2024?
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is active between 19 April and 28 May 2024. It will peak between midnight and dawn on 6 May 2024.
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.
The Eta Aquariids is a moderately active meteor shower associated with the Comet Halley.
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.
DATE OF MAXIMUM
19 Apr - 28 May
Low in sky. Associated with Comet Halley
Find out more about other meteors and meteorites around the year
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.
In 2024 the Eta Aquariid shower begins on April 19, when the Moon is in its Waxing Gibbous phase, and continues until May 28, with its maximum on May 6 happening two days before new Moon, resulting in good seeing conditions.
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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Banner image: Milky Way and Meteor at Porthgwarra © Jennifer Rogers