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American Meteor Society

Viewing the eta Aquariid Meteor Shower in 2020

2 May 2020, 14:19 UTC
Viewing the eta Aquariid Meteor Shower in 2020
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Halley’s Comet particles
Many of our readers were born after the last appearance of Halley’s comet in 1986. They will have to wait until 2061 for it’s next appearance. For those of us who did see it 34 years ago, most of us will not be around for it’s return in 2061. We can all take solace in the fact that remnants from Halley’s comet are circling the solar system, often far from the comet, and encounter the Earth twice each year in the form of meteors from the eta Aquariids of May and the Orionids of October. So while we cannot view the comet itself, we can see bits of ice and dust it has left behind over the past few millennia.
The Orionids are the inbound particles of Halley’s comet while the eta Aquariids are the outbound particles. It should be noted that the particles we see as meteors separated from the comet many hundreds of years ago as the current orbit of the comet does not cross the orbit of the Earth.
Meteor showers on Earth are caused by streams of meteoroids hitting our atmosphere. These meteoroids are sand- and pebble-sized bits of rock that were ...

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