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Meteor shower: sky grazers in for a treat on Monday morning

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Meteor shower. A File Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Sky watchers are in for a treat on Monday morning when a meteor shower will take place.

The meteor shower -- Eta Aquariids -- also known as Earth grazers will be at its peak, SPACE Director C B Devgun told PTI.

Eta Aquariids is visible from late April to early May each year with its peak activity on May 4, he said.

It is the result of the Earth's passage through the dusty debris of Halley's Comet, Devgun explained.

Though Halley's Comet, which was last seen from Earth in 1986, is now far away, beyond the orbit of Uranus, it left behind a stream of dust.

Eta Aquariids got their name because their radiant appears to lie in the constellation Aquarius, near one of the constellation's brightest stars, Eta Aquariids.

In 2005, the shower was favorably viewable because it occurred near a new moon.

It is best viewed in the pre-dawn hours when the glow of city lights is less, Devgun said.

Earth passes through the dusty stream left by the comet twice a year in May and October resulting in the showers. In May, the meteor shower is known as Eta Aquariids meteor shower and in October the Orionids. Both are results of the dusty stream of Halley's Comet.

Eta Aquariids is 156 light years from Earth and 44 times more luminous than the Sun.

The constellation Aquarius does not rise very far above the horizon in the northern hemisphere, and that's why northerners see relatively few meteors during the shower. But the ones they do see could be spectacular Earth grazers.

At this time, sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere are likely to see about 10 meteors every hour, while Southern Hemisphere will see about 30 meteors per hour.

Middle-latitude sky watchers in both hemispheres will see the Eta Aquariids radiant rise over the eastern horizon at approximately 2.30 am local time. Aquarius is a fairly dim constellation.

Halley' s Comet will seen from Earth again in 2061.

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