Like the Orionids in October, this stream of particles was shed by Halley’s Comet. Unfortunately this shower is an old and declining one. As the Earth orbits the Sun we plough through the comet’s remnants twice. Though the Eta Aquarids are the southern hemisphere’s best meteor shower, the radiant point in the Water Urn asterism (looks like a Y-shaped group of stars) in Aquarius, does not rise very high for us New England at this time of year. It only rises low in the east-southeast around 2:30 am. That fact does not allow a large observing window before dawn’s early light puts an end to observing. However, as Aquarius continues to rise higher, the number of meteors should increase as well.
Due to the above circumstances for northern hemisphere meteor watchers, the best time to enjoy this display is from Aquarius rise time until you lose all but the brightest stars in the morning twilight.
Despite these observing drawbacks, an observer can expect to see the normal rate of about 10-15 meteors per hour at peak time. These swift and yellow meteors, which hit our atmosphere nearly head-on, blaze through the sky at 41 miles per second. About forty percent often leave long persistent dust trains behind them as they disintegrate.