Eta Aquariids meteor shower 2020: how to watch the May meteors from the UK - and when they peak tonight
Here's everything you need to know about them:
What are the Eta Aquariids?
The Eta Aquariids are associated with Halley's Comet, which famously only comes to Earth's region of the solar system once every 74 -79 years, and won't be visible from our planet again until 2061.
The meteors that make up the Eta Aquariids shower do originate from the scarcely sighted comet, however the debris broke away from it hundreds of years ago.
The comet's current orbit does not pass close enough to Earth to be a source of meteoric activity.
How to see them
The meteor shower has been going on above our heads for a couple of weeks, and runs roughly from April 19 - May 28.
However, it is this week when budding astronomers are likely to get the best show, as the shower peaks on the night of May 6 and into the early hours of May 7.
The Eta Aquarids should be visible with the naked eye, though weather makes an impact, and with British skies often clouded over, spotting the meteors might be easier said than done.
Living in an area with minimal light pollution will increase your chances of spotting a meteor.
Those living in built up areas would usually be advised to travel to less populated spaces if they really want to see the shower, but with ongoing lockdown restrictions and the coronavirus pandemic, that is not advised.
Wrapping up in warm clothes is recommended, and you should allow up to 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the night sky.
When to see them
The best time to catch the meteors will in the hours just before dawn on May 7, so set your alarm for an early rise.
The Eta Aquariids get their name because they appear to originate from the constellation Aquarius, found in the southern sky.
Looking in that direction might give you a better chance at spotting a meteor, but they can appear from anywhere in the sky.
How ‘spectacular’ will it be?
The Eta Aquariids are not one of the year's most spectacular meteor showers, but they'll still offer up plenty of 'shooting stars' for those willing to put the time in.
They usually peak at around 55 meteors per hours - that's just under one a minute - and those getting up early to see them will notice the rate increase steadily as the sun comes up.
Any 'shooting stars' you do see will be streaking through the atmosphere at approximately 66 kilometres a second - or 147,638 miles per hour.
When is the next meteor shower?
If the weather doesn't play out in your favour and you're unable to catch any meteors in May, it might be a bit of a wait until you can again.
There are plenty of minor showers - those that serve up three meteors an hour for instance - but the next significant one comes in August.
That's when the Perseids begin; they will peak on 13 August, and can deliver up to 110 meteors an hour.