DOVER, MA – The Eta Aquariid meteor shower that is shooting shooting stars right now isn’t the best rain of the year, but there won’t be another until July. So if the weather cooperates in Dover, several nights of stargazing awaits you in the coming days.
Eta Aquariids – sometimes spelled “Aquarids” – peak overnight Tuesday through Wednesday, reliably producing around 10 or 20 meteors per hour. The long-standing meteor shower, which continues through May 28, favors the southern hemisphere, so anyone living along the Canada-U.S. Border can only see a handful of shooting stars.
During peak periods, the National Weather Service forecasts cloudy skies over Dover – but come back to see if the weather changes.
The American Meteor Society says the Eta Aquariid meteor shower produces a high percentage of persistent trains from fast shooting stars, but few fireballs
As with most meteor showers, the best viewing time Eta Aquariids is around dawn Wednesday, but don’t rule out Tuesday and Thursday mornings, says EarthSky.org, explaining that the shower “has a wide maximum, so you might see a lot of meteors these mornings too.”
The constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer is the radiating point of the shower, but you will be able to see meteors in any part of the sky. It’s always best to get as far away from city lights as possible to watch the meteor showers.
The waning crescent moon, which rises towards dawn, shouldn’t be too big of a problem. It will shed some light on Tuesday morning, but will not shine as bright during the Wednesday morning peak or Thursday morning.
In fact, think of it as part of a beauty threesome with, if you’re lucky, a few shooting stars thrown in. The moon will join Jupiter and Saturn in the southeastern sky on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Also in May, the corn planting full moon on the 26th is a super moon, the second of three consecutive full moons as our planet’s natural satellite reaches the closest point to Earth (perigee) in its elliptical orbit. The proximity to Earth – keep in mind that our planet and moon are still 226,000 apart at this point – makes the moon appear a little brighter and larger than usual.
The next meteor shower won’t come until July. The Delta Aquariids – another longtime shooting star show that lasts over a month and intersects with summer favorite, the Perseids – peaks July 27-30. This downpour also favors the southern hemisphere, but sky watchers in tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere can expect 15 to 20 meteors per hour during the hours before dawn on peak dates.