Eta Aquarids

6 May 2019

I hadn't planned to prepare a post about the Eta Aquarids, because meteor showers can be, shall we say, "underwhelming"?

However, it looks like this year, I'm wrong. The Eta Aquarids are quite spectacular, mainly due to their coming at the time of the new Moon, so the skies are dark.

This meteor shower happens at the same time each year, as the Earth passes through the cloud of dust and grit left behind by Halley's Comet. Who would have thought that the vacuum of space is as full as stuff?

The cloud forecasts for tomorrow morning for both Melbourne and Sydney are pretty reasonable. If you go outside at 4:30am or earlier (yes, you heard me) and look North East, the radiant (that's where the meteors appear to be coming from) is about 40° above the horizon. The meteors themselves won't be here, though. They'll appear all over the sky, so it's best to look in the darkest general areas.

They're not a continuous thing, either. Somewhere between 10 and 20 meteors are expected per hour, so there can be minutes between each one.

Because it's not a constant bombardment, bring a chair or lie down - you're going to have to be a bit patient. Keep warm, by using a sleeping bag (or in my case a really dorky looking industrial freezer suit).

This photo is courtesy of Tara Gowen, through the Australian Amateur Astrophotography Facebook group. Her photo was taken this morning (Monday). It was a 15 second exposure, shot near Yarrahainni, NSW Mid North Coast, using a Nikon D750, Tamron 24-70mm @ 24mm f3.2, set at ISO 3200.

Great shot, Tara!