The Eta Aquarid meteor shower of 2017

Tonight begins the biggest skywatching event between now and the total eclipse coming on August 21, 2017... the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

Image Credit (NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke)

The Eta Aquarids is one of the two meteor showers created by debris from Halley's Comet and was discovered officially in 1870 (link). The Earth passes Halley's path around the Sun a second time in October. This creates the Orionid meteor shower.

The Eta Aquarids seem to come from the direction of the constellation Aquarius in the sky and is named after its brightest star, Eta Aquarii. It can be seen from anywhere in the world, though in the Southern Hemisphere you will be treated with around 20-40 meteors per hour rather than the 10-15 meteors per hour that one can expect in mid-northern latitudes. The good part about the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is that even though it doesn't produce as many meteors as the Perseid or Geminid showers, these ones are particularly bright and easy to spot since they are moving so quickly (about 148,000 miles per hour) and leave very long "tails" in the sky.

Image Credit (NASA)

The best viewing time in Nashville will be between 3:00am - 5:00am and with the rain the last few days, there currently appears a chance for clear skies. Break out the lawn chairs and be ready to sleep in because it'll be a late night.

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