You’ll need to set an early alarm, but thanks to a favourable moon (or lack thereof) Australians have one of the best seats in the world to view the annual Eta Aquariid meteor show on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings this week.
The Eta Aquariid happens every year as earth passes through a stream of ice and dust trailing Halley’s Comet, but conditions for viewing them are seldom this favourable.
“It’s like driving through a field of bugs … just suddenly you’ll hit bug-central, and then when you get out there’s less bugs,” says Melbourne University physicist Clare Kenyon.
The shower lasts for about a month but is going through its peak now and will be visible looking east towards the Aquarius constellation from around 3am until dawn. About 20 to 25 meteors will shoot through the sky each hour.
“Go a little bit outside the city, or even a nearby oval will give you the best view,” says Australian National University astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker. “After you go outside let your eyes adjust for a few minutes and then look around and you will see bursts of them.”
The earth is moving through a particularly dense patch of the shower at the same time as there is a new moon, meaning the sky is darker and the meteors more visible.
The Bureau of Meteorology predictions suggest that skies are clear in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane from Tuesday to Thursday. Adelaide is unfortunately cloudy through to Thursday.
Melbourne is mostly clear tomorrow morning with a chance of showers, the city is then cloudy from Wednesday evening until Thursday.
Check your city’s forecast below courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology.
Tue 3am–6am mostly clear skies though there is a slight chance of a shower about so some cloud will be present (8°C)
Wed 3am–6am cloudy with showers (11°C)
Thu 3am–6am partly cloud with possible shower or two (9°C)
Tue 3am–6am clear skies (11°C)
Wed 3am–6am mostly clear skies (13°C)
Thu 3am–6am mostly clear skies (11°C)
Tue 3am–6am clear skies (12°C)
Wed 3am–6am clear skies (14°C)
Thu 3am–6am clear skies (13°C)
Tue 3am–6am mostly clear skies (6°C)
Wed 3am–6am mostly clear skies (10°C)
Thu 3am–6am clear skies (6°C)
Tue 3am–6am cloudy with a shower or two about (11°C)
Wed 3am–6am cloudy with a shower or two about (11°C)
Thu 3am–6am cloudy with showers (11°C)