Stargazers and astronomers should be very excited about the coming meteorological event in which Halley’s Comet will be passing by Earth and in the night sky you will be able to see spectacular sights of meteor showers and shooting stars.
Named the Eta Aquarid shower, it is formed from the dust of Halley’s Comet and can be seen from late April and into early May, with the best days to see them on May 5 and 6 in the early hours before dawn.
The meteors enter the atmosphere at speeds of 148,000 mph, so if you blink you could miss it! The reason we see the shower is due to the crooked orbit of the comet, and as it goes to close to the sun, the icy surface of the comet releases particles of ice and dust.
The debris follows the comet’s path and forms a tail. As Earth passes through the tail, the debris is pulled into our atmosphere and burns up, streaking across the sky. This results in meteor showers or shooting stars.
During the Eta Aquarid showers, the debris from Halley’s Comet will be travelling at around 40 miles per second. The last time the comet and the showers that followed could be seen from Earth was in 1986.
If you are staying at our holiday accommodation in Norfolk and want to see the showers with your own eyes – no telescopes needed – get out before dawn, in the early hours of the morning. Make sure your eyes are adjusted to the dark and you are in a place away from any light pollution. The showers come in spurts so be sure to keep alert!
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Photo by: NASA/W. Liller