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Eta Aquarid meteor shower — a burst of 'shooting stars' left by Halley's Comet to peak this weekend

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks this weekend.(Image credit: Getty)

If the moon doesn't get in the way, an outburst of 'shooting stars' from Halley's Comet could result in an amazing Eta Aquarid meteor shower on May 5 and 6.

This weekend could be a great weekend for skywatchers who are in the right place at the right time.

The annual display of "shooting stars" (which are actually tiny meteors burning up in Earth's atmosphere) will peak overnight tonight(May 5) and 6. It coincides with May's full Flower Moon. Unfortunately, this will make it more difficult to see anything other than the brightest meteors. - NASA is predicting a "significant outburst" though which could produce double the usual number of shooting stars' each hour, according to The Eta Aquarids usually produce only 10 to 30 meteors per hour just before dawn as seen from the Northern Hemisphere, according to the American Meteor Society.

The shower tends to appear stronger in the Southern Hemisphere, with a rate of around 60 meteors per hour during the shower's peak. That means there could be as many as 120 shooting stars' per hour during the peak hours of the Eta Aquarids this year. According to NASA. the shooting stars produced by the Eta Aquarids are particularly fast - more than 146,000 mph (235,000 km/h). They often leave persistent "trains" (incandescent bits of debris in their wakes) that last several seconds to minutes,.

Since the full moon will rise at dusk on May 5 and set at dawn on May 6, it will brighten the sky all night...Although skywatchers in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand will have a distinct advantage since there will be a slight eclipse of the moon for about four hours overnight, making meteor viewing a little easier.

The Eta Aquarids are caused by debris left in the inner solar system by Halley's Comet.

Eta Aquarid meteors appear to come from close to the star Eta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius, but they can show up anywhere in the sky.

All you will need to see these shooting stars is your naked eyes. No special telescope or binoculars are necessary.