Although Halley's comet is only visible from Earth once every 75 years, the meteor shower it leaves in its wake can be viewed every year. This year, the shower started on April 21st and will continue until May 20th. However, the best time to watch the celestial light show will be tonight, May 5th, through tomorrow morning, May 6th. According to Accuweather, this will be the peak of the shower, with the highest concentration of meteors streaking the sky.
Generally speaking, meteor showers come from the rocky debris that comets leave behind as they soar through our Solar System. The gravitational pull of our Earth attracts these debris, drawing them into our atmosphere. When viewing this phenomena, what we see as shooting stars are actually the meteors burning rapidly as they enter Earth's atmosphere.
Although the southern hemisphere will be seeing more meteors overall (learn why here), the shower should be visible throughout the country. Can't make it outdoors? Check out Slooh's livestream of the Aquarid shower starting tonight, May 5th, at 8:00 PM. During the broadcast, astronomers will discuss the event and answer twitter questions from the public. To ask a question, tweet #MeteordeMayo followed by your question.
Now grab your coronas and sombreros and bring your Cinco De Mayo party to the back yard!
Text by Nate Morgan