Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Meteor shower to dazzle the night sky early Friday

A meteor shower will speckle dots of light flashes across the clear night sky in most regions of America early Friday giving star gazers a magical celestial show.

The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower began in April, however the peak time is this week, especially in the early morning hours on Friday.

The meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the debris trail left by Halley's Comet, the popular comet which made it's closest approach to our planet 25 years ago and continues to move further away.

Backyard astronomers will train their eyes toward the constellation Aquarius region in the eastern horizon during the predawn hours on Friday.

Telescopes and binoculars will be the observation tools for most, but for several the trained naked eye and a lawn chair will be used to watch these micro rocks speed toward the atmosphere at 44 m.p.h.

NASA astronomers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville estimate between 20 to 30 meteors will dazzle across the night sky per hour between 3:30 a.m. thru 5:00 a.m.

Astronomers state the less light pollution around you the better for watching the most meteors streak overhead.

Skywatching weather across the Peach State calls for clear skies and cool temperatures around 50 degrees from Dahlonega south to Savannah. A mug of hot coffee and a muffin are optional during the meteor show.

Even the Earth's moon will assist in meteor viewing as it's crescent form will set earlier in the evening at 9:00 p.m.

If you do stay up you can connect with NASA's web site as they host a live chat session with three noted interplanetary scientists.

Visit beginning at 11:00 p.m. Thursday and ask NASA your meteor-related question.

Halley's Comet is due to make it's next close approach with Earth during the summer of 2061.

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