The Eta Aquarids is a meteor shower that is associated with the passage of Halley's Comet. This event happens each year between April 22 and May 12, and reaches it's peak on May 5th. It isn't a particularly spectacular shower, with it's hourly rates being in the neighborhood of 20 per hour in the northern hemisphere, and 50 per hour in the southern. It also is a difficult meteor shower to observe, as it doesn't reach a high enough altitude to be seen until twilight is almost starting. Viewing time is very limited. This year (2001), viewing will be even more difficult, as the moon will be almost full. If, however, you wish to give it a try, the shower becomes visible about an hour before twilight in the Eastern sky. It is also better observed from the southern hemisphere, and can't be seen at all above 40 degrees longitude.

This particular meteor shower had been recorded as early as 401 A.D., but it was 'officially' discovered in 1870, by Lieutenant-Colonel G. L. Tupman, who observed it from the Mediterranean Sea. During much of the next few decades,the Eta Aquarids remained a poorly observed shower due to a lack of active meteor observers in the southern hemisphere. Interest was gained in the Aquarids, however, in the 1920's and 1930's, particularly by Ronald A. McIntosh from Auckland, New Zealand. One notable thing about the Eta Aquarids is the large variablility in frequency from year to year.

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