Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower: Shooting Stars From Halley’s Comet To Light Up The Sky This Weekend

hero couple viewing shooting star
While last month may have brought April showers, May brings what could be the strongest meteor shower this century. The shooting stars will originate from the famous Halley’s Comet, which is in retrograde orbit with the sun.

Halley’s Comet orbits the sun in the opposite direction of the Earth, completing an orbit roughly once every 76 years. Because of this, the iconic comet makes a near pass of Earth twice during that time period—once along the outbound portion of the comet’s orbit, and again along the inbound portion of the comet’s orbit. This go-round Halley’s Comet will be on its outbound journey. While the comet has been observed since 240 BCE, it last returned for a close pass of Earth in 1985/86.

eta aquariids meteor shower

But what makes this pass even more exciting is the Eta Aquariid meteor shower it will bring with it. The associated meteors will appear to radiate from a certain point in front of the constellation Aquarius, according to EarthSky. The meteor shower gets its name from the star Eta Aquariid, which will be where sky watchers will want to look for in order to see shooting stars.

The best mornings to view shooting stars will be on May 5 and 6, 2024, just before the sun rises. The American Meteor Society lists 8:43am UTC on May 5 as the shower’s peak. However, that time varies depending on the expert. Viewers should expect elevated numbers of falling stars a few days ahead and after the peak time.

The chances of seeing shooting stars from the Eta Aquariids actually began on April 15, and will last until approximately May 27, 2024. Those in the southern half of the US could see 10 to 20 meteors per hour under a dark sky during the peak dates, while those in the Southern Hemisphere possibly seeing two to three times that many.

Halley’s Comet won’t be around again until 2061, as it heads back toward the inner solar system. But it is leaving behind the Eta Aquariids meteor shower for all to have plenty of chances to wish on a falling star.