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Gazing at the Eta Aquarids

May 1st, 2009 · 1 Comment · Personal

Greetings, fellow meteor watchers! There seemed to be a nice reaction to my last post on meteor watching, where I spent about an hour or so under the black, moonless sky catching the Lyrids and other objects streaking across the night sky. Well today was the start of  yet another meteor shower, the Eta Aquarids. This shower is going to be a tricky one for us in the US to catch however, as the constellation Aquarius rises low in the East just hours before the sun. Even worse, it seems there will be a nearly full moon taking up a portion of the sky to the South, and that glare will affect meteor watching.

Still – nothing against trying, right?? If you happen to live in an area that is not heavily-polluted by lights, and can find a high enough perch to see over any trees or buildings that would block the Eastern horizon, you just might have a shot right now, as the shower begins. However like all meteor showers, there is a peak period in which the largest amount of meteors per hour can be seen. The peak for the Eta Aquarids is May 5/6. This would be the best chance for anyone living near heavy urban areas to get outside and look for some meteors.

I plan to perch out on my roof once again during peak period to see what I can see, although I’m not expecting a whole lot. But hey, sitting our under the stars is very relaxing. Before I head out I’ll also post some meteor gazing tips I’ve acquired over the years to help you out if you’ve never watched a meteor shower before.

If you need help finding out just where in the sky and when you should bother looking for Aquarius and the shower’s radiant, check out this post I made a few months ago detailing how to set up the free open-source stargazing program Stellarium. That way you can check sky conditions well before hand.

Well, see you all out there next week!

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