On the early morning of May 5, 2023, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower will reach its peak, presenting up to 120-160 shooting stars per hour. This makes it one of the most astounding meteor showers of recent years, even with the occurrence of a full moon on May 5, which may lower visibility of some of the fainter meteors. Bill Cooke, the lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, explained that a meteor shower is similar to a standard rain shower, with 50-60 meteors per hour, while an outburst is like a thunderstorm with greater meteor activity than usual. In contrast, a meteor storm is like a tornado with meteor rates exceeding one thousand per hour.
The Eta Aquariids takes place when the Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet Halley, most of which was ejected over 3,000 years ago. The burnt-out space rocks produce bright streaks across the night sky. For optimal viewing, it is recommended to locate a position with minimal light pollution and allow 30 minutes for the eyes to adapt to the dark. As per a blog post by NASA, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower is observed in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, with the Southern Hemisphere having higher visibility. This due to the radiant’s location in the constellation of Aquarius with the meteors being visible after midnight, and the peak times are between 3-4 a.m. until dawn. Therefore, look away from the moon and take in as much sky as possible. Following that, the Perseids, the next significant meteor shower will peak in mid-August.