ETA AQUARIIDS METEOR SHOWER (Syllabus GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     4th May 2024        
output themes

Context: The Eta Aquariid meteor shower, recently active since April 15th, features burning space debris hurtling into Earth's atmosphere at speeds of about 66 km per second, best observed in May, particularly from countries like Indonesia and Australia in the Southern Hemisphere.

Eta Aquariids

  • About: It is linked to Halley's Comet, appearing annually from approximately April 19 to May 28, reaching its peak activity near May 5.
  • Rapid Speed: Eta Aquariids are distinguished by their rapid speed, resulting in long, glowing tails that endure for several minutes.
  • Varying Visibility: NASA reports a discrepancy in visibility between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the peak of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower.
  • Advantage: In the Southern Hemisphere, observers may witness around 30 to 40 Eta Aquarid meteors per hour, owing to a more favorable viewing angle.
  • Limitations: In the Northern Hemisphere typically see only about 10 meteors per hour due to the less optimal radiant position.

Comets

  • About: These are frozen remnants from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, composed of dust, rock, and ice.
  • Orbital Characteristics: Comets orbit the Sun in highly elliptical orbits, sometimes taking hundreds of thousands of years to complete a single orbit.
  • Known Comets: NASA currently recognizes 3,910 comets, with potentially billions more orbiting beyond Neptune in the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud.

How exactly are meteor showers related to comets?

  • Nature of Meteors: These are grains of dust or rock that burn up in Earth's atmosphere, leaving behind a brief tail due to the burning process.
  • Formation of Meteor Showers: It occur when Earth traverses through clouds of dust left behind in a comet's orbital path, resulting in the illumination of the sky with meteor tails.
Samadhaan