Away from city lights people can witness Annual Meteor Shower called Eta Aquarids (April 19-May 28) from pollution free dark skies across the country. This year it peaks on 6th May at 6.30 p.m and one can best see the shower from 6th to 12th May, 2011 Shower can be spotted until May 28, 2011.

As per the report of International Meteor Organization (IMO) on 6th May, 2011 when the Meteor shower will be at peak nearly 70 Meteors per hour are expected to be seen from dark skies. Further based on past data IMO expects the number of meteors to be variable between 40 to 85 in number per hour at peak. Importantly absence of moon encourages view, as moonlight will not obscure the streaks of light.

Enthusiast across the world are eager as these meteors have their origin in flakes of dust left over by Comet Halley during its 1986 visit to inner solar system. The velocity of particles entering earth would be 66 km/sec as the zip across the sky. The fast and often bright meteors make the view spectacular leave glowing persistent trails.

Where to Look – Constellation of Aquarius above East Direction: starting 4.30 a.m. One has to look above towards East Direction to spot the constellation of Aquarius then one would find bright streaks of light zipping across the sky and it would seem as if they are emanating from the star Eta Aquarii above east.

Meteor Shower: A meteor is a shooting star (layman’s Language) Ulka Patham (telugu) ULKA VRUSTI Or Thoot tha Tara ki Barsat (hindi), space dust about the size of a grain of sand. The dust hits the earth’s atmosphere and burns up in a blaze of light.

Where does space dust come from? Comets and asteroids pass through our solar system. During such pass comets leave dust behind them. When earth crosses through these dust clouds we see a meteor shower. When a speck of this dust hits Earth's atmosphere, it disintegrates in a bright flash of light—a meteor. The parent body causing Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower is Comet Halley.

About Comet Halley : Halley's Comet or Comet Halley (officially designated 1P/Halley) is the most famous of the periodic comets and can currently be seen every 75–76 years during the course of its journey when its return to inner solar system orbiting around sun . Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye (once in 75-76 years), and thus, the only naked-eye comet certain to return within a human lifetime.

This Comet has been observed by astronomers ever since at least 240 BC when it returns to the inner solar system, but it was not recognized as a periodic comet until the eighteenth century when its orbit was computed by Edmond Halley, after whom the comet is now named. Halley's Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986, and will next appear in mid-2061.

About Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower : Eta Aquarids Meteor shower are caused by flakes of dust left over by Comet Halley, which last visited Earth in 1986. Although the comet is now far away, beyond the orbit of Uranus, it left behind a stream of dust. Earth passes through the stream twice a year in May and October. In May we have the eta Aquarid meteor shower, in October the Orionids. Both are caused by Halley's Comet when its debris enters earth atmosphere zipping across the sky while it disintegrates.

The shower is named after a star called Eta Aquarii 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.
N.Sri Raghunandan Kumar General Secretary Planetary Society, India

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