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The eta Aquarid meteor shower 2013

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posted on May, 3 2013 @ 03:37 PM
Hello all,

This year's eta Aquarid meteor shower is already underway and is predicted to peak at 0100 UT on the 6th of May. In fact radio meteor observers have been reporting unusually strong activity in the last couple of days. It might be that the shower has peaked early this year, or it might be that this years predicted peak will be stronger than usual (less likely I suspect), or it could simply be a strong sub-peak that has not been predicted.

The eta Aquarid meteor shower is caused when Earth encounters the debris ejected from Halley's Comet, which occurs twice every year, also giving rise to the Orionid meteor shower in October.

Whilst the eta Aquarids are best observed from the Southern hemisphere, they can also be observed from the Northern hemisphere where rates are about half those in the Southern hemisphere. Observers in the Southern hemisphere can expect to see as many as 20-30 eta Aquarid meteors per hour in an average year if observing under ideal conditions at the peak of the shower.

The shower is named after a 4th-magnitude star in the constellation Aquarius. The star has nothing to do with the meteor shower except that, coincidentally, meteors appear to emerge from a point nearby. Eta Aquarii is 156 light years from Earth and 44 times more luminous than the Sun.

The constellation Aquarius does not rise very far above the horizon in the northern hemisphere, and that's why northerners see relatively few meteors. But the ones they do see could be spectacular Earthgrazers.

Earthgrazers are meteors that skim horizontally through the upper atmosphere. They are slow and dramatic, streaking far across the sky. The best time to look for Earthgrazers is between 2:00 to 2:30 a.m. local time when Aquarius is just peeking above the horizon.

Experienced meteor watchers suggest the following viewing strategy: Dress warmly. Bring a reclining chair, or spread a thick blanket over a flat spot of ground. Lie down and look up somewhat toward the east. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky, although their trails will point back toward Aquarius.


Eta Aquarid meteoroids hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 66 km/s.
Typical eta Aquarid meteors are as bright as a 3rd magnitude star.


Whilst not the strongest shower for Northern hemisphere observers, it's a good opportunity to look for earthgrazers, which are often spectacular, but they are few and far between!

Good luck!

Related Links

eta Aquarid info, history, and observations
Previous year's ZHR graphs

Basic visual meteor shower observation techniques
How to Observe Meteor Showers
How to View Meteor Showers - How to "See More Meteors"

This great video covers almost everything, but I would argue on a few points that were mentioned:

1. It's usually better to be totally flat when observing meteors since you can catch meteors close to any horizon with your peripheral vision when facing directly upwards.

2. If you live in a warm/tropical climate, you might get away with a blanket (or even less) to keep you warm, but I'd advise putting on multiple layers of warm cloths, and jumping into a sleeping bag if you want to observe for any length of time if you live away from the equator. If you are too warm (unlikely in most cases) then you can always remove a layer of cloths or two.

3. The camera exposure times he mentioned could be at the upper end of the scale if you have any light pollution at you're site and/or depending on your equipment/settings/how you want your photo to appear. It's worth experimenting before hand, but if you are using fast lenses/high ISOs (which you should be if you want to catch any meteors, although you may get lucky and catch a bright meteor anyway), exposures can be as short as 5 or 10 seconds. See links below for more info.

Advanced visual meteor shower observation techniques

Photographing meteors

General information
Anomalous Meteor Phenomena

Organizations and mailing lists

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 04:20 PM
reply to post by FireballStorm

Ok, I'll S&F you and thanks for the info, but sorry....can't stop looking the hairdo of that guy.

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 04:22 PM
reply to post by FireballStorm

We like to drive up on a flat topped mountain and lay in the back of the pickup in sleeping bags. we bring coffee and chairs too and have a great time!
edit on 3-5-2013 by Char-Lee because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 07:25 PM
Here's some additional info from Robert Lunsford of the The American Meteor Society.

For most observers, the Eta Aquariids are only visible during the last couple
hours before the start of morning twilight. The reason for this is that the
radiant is situated approximately sixty degrees west of the sun. Therefore it
rises before the sun in the morning hours. The time of radiant rise is between
2:00 and 3:00 local daylight time (LDT), depending on your longitude. The real
key is the latitude. There is an observing window for this shower between the
time the radiant rises and the beginning of morning nautical twilight. This
window ranges from zero at 60 degrees north latitude to all night in Antarctica.
Unfortunately in Antarctica, the radiant never rises very high in the sky. The
best combination of a large observing window and a decent radiant altitude
occurs between the equator and 30 degrees south latitude. From this area the
radiant reaches a maximum altitude of 50 degrees at nautical twilight. The
observing window ranges from 3.5 hours at the equator to slightly over 4.0 at 30
degrees south latitude. Going further south will increase your observing window
but the maximum altitude will begin to fall closer to the horizon.

Since most meteor observers live in the northern hemisphere, here are the
conditions at several different latitudes: the observing window for 50N is 1.5
hours with a radiant altitude of 15 degrees. The observing window for 40N is
2.25 hours with a radiant altitude of 25 degrees. The observing window for 30N
is 2.75 hours with a radiant altitude of 35 degrees.

Source: METEOROBS (The Meteor Observing mailing list)

posted on May, 4 2013 @ 05:51 PM
My viewing conditions for the weekend.
Smoke from nearby California wildfires, fortified by assorted cumulus clouds.

If anyone gets a photo of this event please post it!

posted on May, 4 2013 @ 07:57 PM
reply to post by spacedoubt

I might break out a couple of cameras if it's looking clear tomorrow night. If I catch anything worthy I'll post over on your thread.

posted on May, 6 2013 @ 02:06 PM
There are many reports that the eta Aquarids are currently undergoing an outburst. It may be starting to subside however, but if you are in the Southern hemisphere, and it's dark, or in the Northern hemisphere and it's 1-3 hrs before dawn, you may see some.

Source: The International Meteor Organization

Source: NightEvents by Video Patrol - Singapore

I tried last night, but clouds had rolled in

posted on May, 6 2013 @ 02:23 PM
So are these from these meteor showers? I took a screen shot of this earlier today.


posted on May, 6 2013 @ 03:49 PM
reply to post by whatnext21

Yes, some of them are - the ones that have "depth" to them. The first/closest one is not - it has no depth (ie it's short duration). The second one probably is a meteor.

posted on May, 6 2013 @ 05:07 PM
I was also monitoring early this morning, and took a couple of screen shots. It helps if you monitor in "2D" (there's a link at the top of the monitoring page) as well - you can easily tell which are meteors and which is interference.

Here's the example of a meteor I caught in both 2D and 3D. I've marked the meteor with a green arrow in the 2D screen shot, and the direction where the depth that I mentioned earlier indicates a meteor in the 3D view.

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