The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is about to peak and could be the best this century – here’s how to catch it | Science & Technology

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Meteors – commonly known as shooting stars – can be seen on any night of the year. But some nights are better than others.

As Earth moves around the Sun, we encounter streams of dust and debris from comets and asteroids. That debris gives birth to “meteor showers” – times when the number of shooting stars you are likely to see increases dramatically.

Currently, we are passing through the outskirts of one such debris stream, left behind by Halley’s comet. It creates the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, one of the best visible from the southern hemisphere. Every year, when Earth reaches this point in its orbit, you can see the Eta Aquariids in the morning sky.

This year’s display promises to be extra special. The peak coincides with a new Moon, meaning skies will be extra dark in the hours before dawn – perfect conditions to watch fragments of a famous comet rain down. There are even hints the shower might be more “active” than usual.

Fragments of the most famous comet

Halley’s comet (1P/Halley by its official name) orbits the Sun every 76 years or so, and has spent thousands of years on its current path.

Every time it swings through the inner Solar…

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