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Shooting stars over Alabama


There will be a free light show to anyone looking at the sky tomorrow.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak from May fifth through May sixth. The shower is caused by debris left behind by Comet Halley burning in Earth’s atmosphere and appears close to the star constellation Aquarius. Dr. Jimmy Irwin is a professor of astronomy at the University of Alabama. He says that star gazers can expect to see upwards of twenty to thirty meteors per hour.

“The best night to see Eta Aquarids is between late night May 5 to the early dawn of May 6,” said Irwin. “Unfortunately this year, that happens when the moon is near full meaning that the sky will be brighter. We’re going to miss some of the fainter ones but one could still expect to see between maybe 20 to 30 per hour.”

Dr. Irwin says one can expect to see upwards of twenty to thirty meteors per hour during the peak of the shower, and there are a few tips star gazers can follow to improve the view of the meteor shower.

“The most important thing one can do is to get away from city lights,” Irwin said. “The brighter your sky is, the fewer you’re going to see because the fainter ones will be washed out. If you can find a nice open field that’s away from city lights, that’s probably the best way to go. You certainly do not need a telescope or binoculars. They would actually be useless because meteors move so fast.”

Dr. Irwin recommends that meteor shower viewers stay away from city lights and find an open field to observe the sky in. He says there is no need for binoculars or telescopes because the meteors can be observed with the naked eye.

Luke Pollock preferred the weather channel to children's programming since the age of two. He started at the University of Alabama in 2022 and began at Alabama Public Radio the following year as an intern. Luke has a passion for writing and interviewing, and he likes to know how money works. He’s majoring in economics.
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