'Peak streak' time for meteor shower
The Eta Aquariids meteor shower comes from cosmic material emanating from Halley's comet, shown here in 1986.
May 6th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

'Peak streak' time for meteor shower

The greatest show on Earth is in the skies this weekend as the Eta Aquariids meteor shower enters peak streak time.

The shower was at its spectacular best early Friday morning, but the wee hours of Saturday also hold promise, pending clear skies.

If you live in the northern United States, the stream of celestial glitter and unicorns that you’re envisioning may be a bit off the mark though.

Can you see them? Send us your images!

Those who live closer to the equator will get the greatest spectacle - upward of 60 meteors per hour - but in North America, you could see about half that, according to Space.com.

Why the name Eta Aquariids? It's named for the radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate, which is the Aquarius constellation, according to Space.com.

“Each Eta Aquarid meteoroid is a piece of Halley’s Comet doing a kamikaze death dive into the atmosphere,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, quoted in Spacedex.com. “Many people have never seen this famous comet, but on the morning of May 6th they can watch bits of it leave fiery trails across the sky.”

The trails are caused by pieces of the comet burning up in our atmosphere, creating cool streaks of light.

But fear not, Americans, while it may not seem quite like a shower, the radiant will be “fairly low,” according to NASA, creating awesome “Earth grazers,” which are the long iridescent hazes you probably envision. But there still won’t be unicorns.

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Filed under: Earth • Science • Space
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. James Morton

    Didn't see any this morning. For whatever reason, I always see meteors when there aren't any showers, and none when there are. Stay tuned for Comet Elenin in Sept-November, should make for a fun show.

    May 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      We were heading back from the beach one night when a bright green one flew overhead and broke up over New Jersey. WAY off of any shower time. Just a random thing.
      I haven't watched one of the regular showers in years, either I have something going on that I'm up early for or it's cloudy. :/

      May 7, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    @banasy: Hi. I don't know who Lucifer is, but it's not me. Also, I don't like Satan related names. Lucifer to me, is a dumb azzz. No respect for religion. Just my opinion.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Huh? What the h3// are you smoking? Please leave religion out of it, for it's mankind's greatest plague.

      May 8, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Butterycomp

    Oh please.... Meteor God/Goddess could you please send down a meteor big enough to flatten my neighbors house. She is loud, trashy, meth-head, and bi-polar... But don't let it hurt her... just let it make her homeless... ok Im sorry fellow posters... Im ranting in the name of keeping my sanity.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      you must live in apts with thin walls...sprinkle some blue glitter at your neighbors door steps and walkway and leave a beautiful blue rose with a note: if you stay quiet for 3 days something wonderful will happen to you...sign the fairy! If you neighbor has been quiet for 3 days send her a box of blue chocolates with a bouquet of blue roses! Of course sprinkle some more blue glitter around her door step and walkway!

      May 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • NDirish

      @butterycomp: best comment ever ...lol

      May 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Dear meteor god/godess, kindly deliver a nice two footer to my yard, right where I want to put that water feature in. It'll save me a little digging and I can use the money from the sale of that meteor!
      Just DO try to miss the boat and the roof.

      May 7, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    Don't watch the meteor shower. Remember the movie "Day of the Triffids" in 1962? lol

    May 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lynnloo

    um did cnn not think that maybe this article wouldve been useful yesterday? thanks for telling me to watch for a meteor shower i apparantly already missed.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      This isn't as important as the birthers or deathers or something.
      I guess we're lucky that CNN bothered to report this before Monday night.

      May 7, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Treazure

      Lls.. right! Y after the fact?!

      May 7, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. sam

    celestial glitter and unicorns? sounds like a progressive commercial.

    May 7, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. mlongnecker

    I'm with you lynnloo this would be useful information if it was posted sooner. Its Friday 11:45PM in Texas. Sky is clear I guess I missed it too.

    May 7, 2011 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Wolf

    A celestial celebration of the death of Osama been Gotten!

    May 7, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. bear218

    OBLs carcuss should be strapped to a comet and shot into the center of the sun.

    May 7, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. mlongnecker

    "But the wee hours of Saturday also hold promise" Guess I'll be up awhile and keep looking. What time is Wee hour anyway?

    May 7, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • natx

      i always thought wee hour was when you wake up in the middle of the night and have to go.

      May 7, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. mlongnecker

    Good Idea natx. I will take a pee now, peak in an hour, then drink lots of water it should bring me to the wee hour. Thank you. I just might catch a shooting star after all.

    May 7, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. esther

    Mr Craig Johnson, I have never left a response on any article, but I am so impressed with your Journalist skills, just had to comment. Your light and airy style of writing, adding your hummor is captivating. It seems to me you could write about something mundain and make it an enjoyable read. Yet you took an already interesting subject and made it several notches above interesting. Thanks, Esther

    May 7, 2011 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Emmanuel

    Osama been gotten! Very good indeed, and soon the rest will be gotten, just be patient.

    May 7, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. laura

    Thanks for the article i hope skies are clear. I learned meteorologists have imaginative and descriptive adjectives for kinds of comets. Why does CNN allow the comments of a Moronic Conversion?

    May 7, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cesar

    @Laura: I've got a few adjectives for you too: slim, smart, kind, hard working. Your husband is falling out of love with you. Buy me a beer at Olive Garden, and we can talk about it. Agreed?

    May 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
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