The heavily romanticised “tootta tara” has made many-a-Bollywood fans look out in the night skies to witness this celestial phenomenon. However, even though meteors or ‘shooting stars’, as they are commonly known, may occur all year along, there are definite time periods when they peak and are most visible. And it so happens that tonight is one such night!
The Eta Aquarids meteor showers peak at dawn on 5th, 6th, and 7th May. If you fear you may have missed the first day, do not worry, tonight is the night with the greatest number of meteors! It is said that this shower can produce about 40- 50 meteors per hour.
The best hours to watch are just before dawn, so make sure you get enough rest till then and the grab a cup of coffee and a companion and head to a terrace or an open space with no or very little artificial light, for the best viewing environment. Thank your lucky stars (pun intended) that this year the moon is a waxing crescent; this means that there will be very little light blocking your vision.
You don’t have to be an astronomer or a connoisseur in star gazing to look out for these, the meteors fly in every direction across the sky. We would recommend looking halfway across the sky for the most activity.
This shower has some meteors that could take a few seconds to move and also leave a persistent white trail after the glow has faded.
Things to remember while watching the Eta Aquarids meteor shower
- Be patient. Give your eyes about 20 minutes to adapt to the dark. You may not be able to see fainter meteors right away.
- Most showers neither have fixed number of meteors nor regular intervals between meteors. Do not be disappointed if you see one meteor and don’t catch any for the next 30 minutes. Wait longer and you may just get a sudden burst in the number of meteors.
- The Eta Aquarids are more dominant in the southern hemisphere but the northern hemisphere star gazers can catch it from around 4 am till sunrise.
Meteor showers can be very overwhelming for space-buffs or adventure lovers. They can also provide a relief from the chaos of city life. Frequent meteor shower viewers will know that this is one of the best showers to view because of the frequency of meteors and favourable viewing and weather conditions in India right now to support it.
Additional fun for meteor shower night
- You could download an astronomy app on your phone or tab and take it along with you for some additional educative fun.
- Make a meteor shower playlist of songs that would heighten your senses while you watch the star studded sky.
With music and stars flying across the sky, I think you are in for a pretty surreal night. Have a fun experience!