Eta Aquarids meteor shower
The Eta Aquarids, also known as the Eta Aquariids, is the first of a pair of meteor showers that originate from Halley’s Comet, the most renowned cosmic body of them all. This year, the Eta Aquarids shower reached its peak on May 6.
The bad news for those in the UK is that the shower is more impressive in the Southern Hemisphere, where observers can witness around 20 to 30 meteors per hour during its peak. Meanwhile, stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can only ever expect to see half as many.
The shower produces shooting stars when the Earth passes along Halley’s debris stream, which, in turn, creates tiny particles that burn in the upper atmosphere.
Tau Herculids meteor shower
A newcomer this year, the Tau Herculids shower peaked through to the early morning of May 31. The shower had its origins in a comet known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or “SW3”, which was discovered in 1930 and orbited the Sun every 5.4 years.
Astronomers later realized the SW3 had shattered into several pieces, littering its own orbital trail with debris, and by the time it passed in 2006, it was in nearly 70 pieces.
It has continued to fragment further since, and now experts predict that the SW3 debris will soon be striking Earth’s atmosphere at just 10 miles per second.
Unfortunately for those in the UK, North American stargazers were best placed to see the Tau Herculid shower at its peak.
The Delta Aquariids meteor shower
The Delta Aquariids meteor shower hit its peak on July 30, allowing stargazers to see a steady stream of meteors over several days but at a low rate per hour.
One of the more moderate meteor showers, the Delta Aquariids started off the summer in the northern hemisphere. Although it was best viewed from the southern hemisphere, those living at mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere were still be able to see the celestial event.
The meteor shower adopted its name from the Aquarius constellation, near the bright star Delta Aquarii, in the night sky from which it appeared to be traveling directly outward.
The Perseid meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower hits its peak between August 12 and 13 in 2022, allowing stargazers to witness around 160 and 200 meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere every single hour.
The shower is particularly prominent in the Northern Hemisphere, in the pre-dawn hours, and is one of the most popular showers, as though it is not the strongest, its spectators can enjoy it during summer.
During its peak, the Perseids sparkle in the summer sky, when the Earth collides with particles of debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle Comet.
The shower found its name from the Greek word, Perseidai, meaning the sons of Perseus in Greek mythology, which refers to the point in which they appear to hail.
Unfortunately, the peak fell around the time of the fullmoon in 2022, so light conditions were slightly poor.
Those planning to watch the shower were recommended to start from around midnight until 5.30am, to increase chances of spotting the meteors, as the darker the sky, the better, when watching for meteors.
How to watch meteor showers in the UK
Unsurprisingly, meteor showers are best enjoyed once night falls, in the darkest conditions.
Meteorologists also suggest avoiding light pollution, so stargazers and photographers alike escape built-up areas, and head to the countryside, or a National Park, where you can view the showers in all their glory.
Choose a dark location away from stray lights and give yourself at least 20 minutes to appropriately adapt in total darkness.