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Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks this weekend: How to watch

Keep your eyes peeled, because these meteors are known for their speed.
Credit: NASA
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is the first of two showers that occur each year as a result of Earth passing through dust released by Halley's Comet.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It's a good weekend to go outside and look up. 

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on May 5, giving people across the Northern and Southern Hemisphere a good chance of seeing a star show. 

These meteors are known for their speed, traveling at 148,000 miles per hour into the atmosphere. During their peak, about 30 Eta Aquarid meteors can be seen per hour, although people in the Northern Hemisphere generally see fewer than that.

What are the Eta Aquarids?

The meteor shower peaks each year in early May as the Earth passes through the debris trail of Halley's Comet. Halley's Comet sheds streams of ice and dust every time it circles back through the inner solar system, leading to two different yearly meteor showers, the Eta Aquarids in the spring and the Orinoids in the fall.

"The Eta Aquarids are the outbound particles of Halley's comet and the Orionids are the inbound," American Meteor Society editor Robert Lunsford said, adding that both showers have a nearly two-month active period. "Halley's Comet has been through the inner solar system so many times, a lot of the particles have spread out."

The meteor shower lasts from April 15 to May 27 this year, with a peak on May 4 to 5.

How to watch the Eta Aquarid meteor shower

Find a spot away from city lights and head outside after midnight. Lie flat on your back and look up, and allow yourself at least 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. 

While some might have to worry about cloud cover dampening their view, this year's peak also coincides with a full moon on May 5, which could interfere with your view.

The shower will last until dawn.

You may have better luck if you turn your gaze toward the horizon. According to NASA, Eta Aquarid meteors can more often be seen as "Earthgrazers" in the northern hemisphere, or long meteors that appear to skim the surface of the Earth at the horizon.

RELATED: Top skywatching events of 2023 you don't want to miss

Val Lick contributed to this report.

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