Shooting Stars in May 2022: Eta Aquarid Peak

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    Karim Belbahir

    After shooting stars comes before shooting stars: you could say that because everything happens in quick succession in May. Following the Eta Aquariids in May on the approach of the Eta Lyrids and Arietids. But not everything is easy to see.

    Halley’s Comet Leaves Eta Aquariids Behind

    Shooting stars in the night sky

    A shooting star lights up in the night sky over Halle/Saale. Photo: Hendrik Schmidt/Archive

    © German Press Agency

    After the Lyrids in April, the Eta Aquariids meteor shower is also active in May. While at the end of April the earth could no longer move through Lyrid meteor shower moved, since April 19 meets the shooting stars Eta Aquariids. They are also called May Aquariids because Delta Aquariids also occur in July. They enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 55 kilometers per hour, where they then burn up in the form of fireballs. They are named after the constellation Aquarius where they come from.

    The Eta Aquarids are descended from Halley’s comet and can be observed shortly before sunrise. Then, 10 to 15 shooting stars can be detected just above the horizon. Halley’s very bright parent comet is visible to the naked eye about once every 75 years. He was last seen in 1986. The Eta Aquarids will last until May 28 and peak on May 5 and 6. You can then see up to 60 of these fireballs in the sky, depending on which south of Europe you are viewing them from.

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    More meteor showers in May

    In addition to the Eta Aquarids, two more meteor showers are active in May. However, Central Europeans won’t see any of them because it’s raining during the day. These are the Arietis. They start at the end of the month (May 22) and last until the beginning of July. These are fragments of comet 96P/Machholtz. However, in order to be able to observe them, technical means are needed.

    On the other hand, eta-lyrids are more visible. It’s a pretty small meteor shower. A maximum of 3-5 fireballs appear in the sky during their maximum on May 8th. Despite the similarity in name to their April namesakes, the Eta Lyrids are not from the same comet. Rather, they are fragments of C/1983 H1 (IRAS-Araki-Alcock). It attracted particular attention when it passed close to the Earth in 1983 and was visible to the naked eye.

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