Night Vision—Comets and Meteor Showers

Posted April 29, 2019 - by Nick Jarvis

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We're talking meteors this week, largely because of the upcoming η/Eta-Aquariid meteor shower, which will be active for at least a week centered around May 6th.

Meteor showers occur when the Earth flies through a dirtier-than-normal part of our orbit. In the case of the η​-Aquariids, we have the honor of flying through dirt from the famous Comet Halley! From our mid-northern latitudes, we may only get, at best, about ten meteors per hour; however, η​-Aquariid​s frequently leave persistent, ionized trails that glow for a few seconds after they appear!

Comet Halley
Comet Halley's long, elliptical orbit brings it past us every 75-76 years; its last approach was in 1986. (Image credits: NASA/W. Liller and NagualDesign)

In our show, we'll look at what causes our yearly recurring meteor showers, tips for getting the best viewing experience, and we'll also take a look forward to the outstanding performers later in the year - i.e. the Perseids in August and the Geminids in December.

Join us on Thursday, May 2nd, for this week's Night Vision. Tickets are just $2.00 per person for the public, and free for members of Clark Planetarium. You can get them here.

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