Halley’s Comet debris trail sets the sky aglitter tonight
By Jennifer Stahn
Halley's Comet in 1986.
Image Credit: NASA
May 05, 2014 - 3:05 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A peak at the annual debris trail from Halley’s Comet may be possible tonight and early Tuesday morning if skies clear.
Every spring bits of the debris trail burn up resulting in the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower. This year the peak will occur tonight, Monday, May 5, through Tuesday morning.
The bright full moon will likely wash out the fainter meteors but we can still expect to see a number of bright ones, especially right before dawn with clear skies and away from city lights.
NASA recommends finding an area away from city or street lights where you can lie flat on your back and look up towards the sky. It can take about 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark so you can start to see the meteors.
The meteor shower is active from mid-April through the end of May but peaks the first week of May. The Eta Aquarids are known for being fast moving and travel at a speed of 66 km per second.
The meteors are better viewed from the Southern hemisphere, with the Northern hemisphere usually only seeing about 10 meteors per hour. In the north these meteors are known as ‘Earthgrazers’ as they appear to skim the surface of the horizon.
If the weather does not cooperate, or you can’t get out of the city for a clear view, NASA will broadcast a live Ustream showing the skies over Alabama, which are expected to be clear.
Halley’s Comet is visible from earth every 76 years or so and last passed in 1986. The next time it will be visible is 2061. The related Eta Aquarids are visible every spring and appear to come from the constellation Aquarius. Halley’s Comet also produces a meteor shower known as the Orionids, which occurs in October.
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