[ASC-media] Media release: Celestial fireworks in our skies this week

Paul Floyd thestarman at homemail.com.au
Mon May 2 21:41:36 EST 2005

For immediate release - Monday May 2

Celestial fireworks in our skies this week

Casual sky watchers across Australia can watch the Southern hemisphere's
best meteor shower peak in activity this week, with meteors impacting the
Earth's atmosphere at 66 kilometers per second (not a mis-print). Known as
the eta-Aquarid meteor shower, it will peak in activity on the morning of
Thursday May 5.

Mr Paul Floyd, Science teacher, Astronomy educator and www.paulfloyd.id.au
webmaster said, "Don’t miss the Southern Hemisphere’s most reliable meteor
shower - the eta-Aquarid meteor shower. It is active in 2005 from April 19
to May 28 with a peak on the morning of Thursday May 5. You don't need
specialist equipment to watch the shower - just the willingness to get up in
the pre-dawn sky to watch meteors zip across the sky. Expect to see up to 60
meteors per hour under ideal conditions on the day of the peak. Either side
of the peak, from May 3 to 10, you can expect to see upwards of 30 per hour.
The activity rate will taper away before and after this period."

"Believe it or not, this light show can be traced back to the billion year
old dust from Halley's Comet. Every 76 years or so, Halley’s Comet has swept
through the inner Solar System. The iceberg (or what astronomers call the
nucleus) that marks the heart of Halley’s Comet has been slowly melted under
the Sun’s glare and released vast quantities of gas and dust. Every Autumn,
the Earth travels through this diffuse cloud of dust. These tiny particles
of dust (up to the size of a small pea) slam into the Earth’s atmosphere,
travelling at 66 kilometres per second or some 237,600 kilometres per hour.
As they do, the friction created by the dust travelling at such tremendous
speed heats the surrounding atmosphere to such a degree that it glows. These
often bright streaks of light are known as meteors or shooting stars.

Mr Floyd concluded, "Meteor showers are usually named after the
constellation from which they radiate. In Autumn, the meteors produced by
the dust from Halley’s Comet appear to radiate from the constellation
Aquarius ‘The Water Bearer’. To observe the eta-Aquarids, simply get up a
few hours before dawn any day this week (Thursday would be ideal), face to
the North East and wait. A detailed information sheet (including a finder
chart) on the eta-Aquarid meteor shower can be found on my site at


For more information:

Contact Paul Floyd on (mobile) 040 888 4380 or www.paulfloyd.id.au

The direct URL for the eta-Aquarid meteor shower information sheet is:

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