How to See 3,000-Year-Old Meteors Streak Across the Northern California Sky this Week

Northern California residents are in for a celestial treat as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the nights of May 5 and May 6, 2024. This annual event, known for its bright and fast meteors, offers a unique opportunity for stargazers.

Originating from the debris left by Halley’s Comet, the Eta Aquarids are active from April 15 to May 27. The timing of this year’s peak coincides with the new moon, providing minimal moonlight interference—a stark contrast to the full moon of 2023. This optimal viewing condition enhances the visibility of the meteor shower, making it possible to see as many as 50 meteors per hour under clear skies, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

While the Eta Aquarids are best observed from the Southern Hemisphere or near the equator, observers in Northern California can still enjoy a good show. In northern latitudes, including parts of Northern California, viewers can expect to see between 10 to 30 meteors per hour during the peak.

For the best viewing experience, locals should head to the darkest possible location away from city lights. No special equipment is required to enjoy the meteor shower; all you need is a comfortable spot to sit back and gaze at the sky. It’s important to give your eyes at least 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness to maximize visibility. To preserve night vision, avoid looking at your phone and use flashlights with a red light setting.

Remember, while the meteors originate from the constellation Aquarius, they will streak across the entire sky. Focusing solely on Aquarius might cause you to miss more spectacular meteors visible in nearby constellations. Instead, let your eyes roam across the night sky to catch the breathtaking trails of the Eta Aquarids.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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