Halley’s Comet is going to put on a spectacular show in April

The first of two spectacular meteor showers from Halley’s Comet is coming in April. The meteor shower is called the Eta Aquarids because you can see it in the same area of the sky as the constellation of Aquarius. The shower will start on April 20 and last through May 21, but your best chance to see the meteors will happen May 5 through May 7 in the early hours of the morning. NASA has some tips for best visibility.

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Earth is about to pass through the tail of Halley’s Comet,

This will start around April 20th and will continue right up until May 21st. The best time to view them will be in the small hours between May 5 and 7, when the sky will be the darkest during the new Moon.

The specks and flecks you’ll be seeing are tiny pieces of debris from Halley’s Comet hitting Earth’s atmosphere and burning up. They’re called the Eta Aquarids as they appear to emerge from the constellation of Aquarius.

The shower will be more visible in the southern hemisphere. However, those in the northern hemisphere should be able to catch the odd one, especially if you’re near the equator. At their peak time, those in the southern hemisphere can expect to see up to 30 meteors every hour. If weather conditions are favorable, even those north of the equator can still see up to 10 every hour.

The Eta Aquarids happens every year thanks to Halley’s comet. It takes the comet about 75 years to travel around the sun, but Earth passes through the tail of the comet around April/ May every year.
Halley’s comet is projected to directly pass by the Earth again in 2061.

The early morning hours of May 6 were moonless when grains of cosmic dust streaked through dark skies near Albion, Maine. Swept up as planet Earth plows through dusty debris streams left behind periodic Comet Halley, the annual meteor shower is known as the Eta Aquarids.


All the meteor showers you can watch this year

If your resolution for 2016 was to see more meteor showers, you’re in luck — NASA’s Sky Events Calendar has a list of upcoming “celestial happenings,” including every meteor shower that will occur this year. 

April 22: The second meteor shower of the year is the Lyrids

May 4: Eta Aquarids

July 27: Delta Aquarids

Aug. 12: Perseids

Oct. 21: The Orionids

Nov. 5: South Taurids

Nov. 11: North Taurids

Nov. 17: Leonids

Dec. 13: The Geminids

Dec. 22: The final meteor shower of 2016 will be the Ursids

Info on when at night they’ll be most visible.

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list of astronomically interesting things happening this year

April 21 and 22 - The Lyrids Meteor Shower is classed as an “average” shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. They usually peak on April 21 and 22, although some can be visible from April 16 to 25. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.
May 5 and 6 - The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour. Most of the activity is seen in the southern hemisphere but stargazers here may still see some when it peaks in the pre-dawn hours of May 5 and 6.
May 23 - we will be treated to a spectacle called Saturn at opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to see and photograph Saturn and its moons. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see the planet’s rings and a few of its brightest moons.
August 12 and 13 - The Perseids Meteor Shower runs from July 17 to August 24 but peaks on August 12 and 13. This is one of the best meteor showers to observe and are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. They can produce 50 to 100 meteors per hour in a dark sky.
September 28 - There will be a total lunar eclipse. This occurs when the earth comes between the sun and the moon. This means that the earth stops the sun’s rays reaching the moon. During this type of eclipse, the moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red colour. It will be visible just before 4am. It’s safe to look at the lunar eclipse with the naked eye and telescopes.
October 20 - The Orionids Meteor Shower tends to be active in the month of October, usually peaking around October 20. People can sometimes see about 20 meteors an hour.
October 28 - a rare three-planet conjunction will be visible. The planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will all form a tight one-degree triangle in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise for this spectacular event.
November 16 and 17 - The Leonid meteor shower peaks around these days. The shower is called Leonids because its radiant or the point in the sky where the meteors seem to emerge from, lies in the constellation Leo. There can be around 20 meteors an hour.
• December 13 to 23 - The month of December is good for meteor shower watchers, with the Geminids gracing the skies, peaking around December 13 and 14, and the Ursids that peak around December 22 and 23. The Geminids owes its name to the constellation Gemini while the Ursids get their name from the constellation Ursa Minor.