Backyard Astronomy: May 2014

Most of May, peaking May 6-7: Eta Aquariid meteor shower. A meteor shower occurs when the Earth, in its orbit around the Sun, passes through the debris trail of a comet. The Eta Aquariids are associated with Halley’s Comet. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which they appear to be coming in the sky—in this case, the constellation Aquarius, near Eta Aquarii, one of its brighter stars.

May 10: Saturn at opposition. Opposition is when a planet is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun (see below). It’s the best time to view a planet through a telescope.



May 24: Meteor shower outburst. When the Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet 209P LINEAR, it promises an exciting meteor “storm.” This burst will appear to originate from the constellation Camelopardalis.