Eta Aquariids: Meteor shower to light up skies of London this week

·2-min read
The stunning Eta Aquariid meteor shower will appear low in the sky  (Getty)
The stunning Eta Aquariid meteor shower will appear low in the sky (Getty)

Up to 50 shooting stars an hour could light up the skies above London this week when the Eta Aquariids meteor shower reaches its peak.

The shower is set to peak between midnight and dawn on Friday, May 6.

According to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, the shower is known for its swiftly moving streaks with long trains, and they will appear low in the sky.

For northerly latitudes, such as the UK, they will be best seen in the early pre-dawn hours, advises the observatory.

Stargazers are advised to look towards the constellation Aquarius, although shooting stars will be visible across the sky.

The shooting stars will be visible with the naked eye, although experts advise that areas with low light pollution would be best for spotting them.

Dr Greg Brown, public astronomy officer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told MailOnline: “In the case of the Eta Aquarids, in ideal conditions you might see up to 50 or 60 meteors per hour – but any real observer will almost always see far less than this.

“Because this is a shower better seen from southern tropical latitudes, the UK won’t have a great view, but it is still one of the better showers of the year so definitely worth taking a look.

“Exactly how many meteors you might see though is so difficult to determine it is better not to try.”

The Eta Aquariids is one of two meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley, the other being the Orionid meteor shower which comes in October.

Meteors are pieces of debris which enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing streaks of lights.

The shower appears to emanate from the Aquarius constellation and is named after one of the stars in the constellation, Eta Aquarii.

The meteor shower is known for its swiftly moving streaks with long trains, according to the American Meteor Society, speeding through the atmosphere at 41 miles per second.

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