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Eta Aquarids meteor shower to create cosmic dazzle tonight


NEW DELHI (PTI): Cosmic fireworks will enthrall sky gazers tonight as the Eta Aquarids meteor shower will be at its peak.

This year, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower will be at its peak on May 6 at 6.30 PM, General Secretary of Planetary Society of India N Sriraghunandan Kumar said.

As per the report of International Meteor Organization (IMO) on May 6 when the meteor shower will be at its peak, around 70 meteors per hour are expected to be seen in dark skies.

Looking in the east direction to spot the constellation of Aquarius one would find bright streaks of light zipping across the sky, Kumar said, adding there is no need for using telescopes.

People can directly observe this phenomenon with their naked eyes.

Eta Aquarids shower is caused by flakes of dust left over by Comet Halley, which last visited Earth in 1986.

Although the comet is now far away, beyond the orbit of Uranus, it left behind a stream of dust.

Earth passes through the stream twice a year. In May it produces eta Aquarid meteor shower, R C Kapoor former Professor at Indian Institute of Astrophysics said.

The shower is named after a star called Eta Aquarid in the constellation Aquarius.

The star has nothing to do with the meteor shower except that, coincidentally, meteors appear to emerge from a point nearby, he added.

When startling streaks of light suddenly appear in the sky when a dust particle from outer space evaporates high in the Earth's atmosphere, one can best see the shower from 6th to 10th May, 2011, Kumar said, adding however the shower continues till May 28.

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