If you were too busy sleeping to check out the spectacular peak of the Lyrid meteor shower last weekend, it turns out you're about to get another good shot at watching hundreds of icy comet fragments burn up and streak across the night sky as soon as next week. If you're into that kind of thing.
The dazzling cosmic spectacle, or the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, is the first of two meteor showers caused by debris from Halley's Comet, followed by the Orionids meteor shower in October. As a report by Space.com explains, the meteor shower takes place from April 22 to May 20, but the peak of the shower -- when you'll see the most meteors -- will occur a few hours before dawn on May 6. Observers expect to see about 30 meteors zip across the sky per hour during this period, weather and light pollution conditions permitting, of course. You just have to get your ass out of bed early enough.
The meteors will appear to originate from one of the stars in the constellation Aquarius, Eta Aquarii, hence the name Eta Aquarid meteor shower. From the Northern Hemisphere, the constellation and the apparent origin of the meteors will appear low in the southern sky, meaning you may need to be somewhere with a clear view of the southern horizon if you're watching from northern cities like NYC or San Francisco, per the report. People in Miami, however, will have a much better view. The absolute best places to see the Eta Aquarid are near the equator and in the Southern Hemisphere.
Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, told Space.com the ideal way to watch the meteor show is to lie on your back and look straight up, instead of focusing on the area near the constellation Aquarius. This way, you'll be able to see the meteors that create the brightest -- some even brighter than the Perseid meteor shower -- and longest streaks across the sky, although being horizontal might make sipping your coffee a bit difficult.
Of course, weather and light pollution conditions can make or break your meteor-gazing experience, so keep a close eye on the forecast in the days leading up to the peak. Thankfully, it looks like the moon and its natural light pollution will set by the time Eta Aquarii and the constellation Aquarius appears above the horizon, around 4am, according to the report. Again, all you have to do is drag yourself out of bed before you miss it. Might want to set a reminder/alarm now.