The annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours of May 6, offering stargazers a glimpse of up to 60 meteors per hour. Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters
Stargazers will be treated to a cosmic light show tonight as the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower streams through the sky.
The meteors that will be visible are part of a weeks-long shower that begins in late April and continues until the third week of May, peaking on or around May 6 every year.
Astronomers expect that viewers in the Northern Hemisphere will see about 30 meteors per hour, while those watching from south of the equator will see up to 60 per hour.
While the stellar show will be visible from midnight until dawn, peak hours will be between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET. According to NASA, a first-quarter moon will set just before midnight, helping to darken the skies and set the stage.
NASA recommends viewing the meteor shower away from the glow of city lights, and will offer a live feed from the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Ala., online after 9 p.m.
The meteors of the Eta Aquarid shower are in fact part of the debris trail from Halley’s Comet, which passed through the inner solar system in 1986. As the Earth passes through the trail at about this time every year, the debris bits are burnt up in its atmosphere, producing the light show in the sky.
The name Eta Aquarid comes from the fact that the meteor shower appears to take place within the constellation Aquarius, close to its brightest star, Eta Aquarii.