The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will be peaking next Sunday, May 5, 2013. The nights preceding and for a few days afterwards will also be good for watching. In fact, the Eta Aquarids have actually already begun, if you were to go out tonight you’d probably get a decent show (depending on the location). Those in the Southern Hemisphere will get the best show, but the meteor shower will be visible to those in the northern latitudes as well.
The Eta Aquarids (Eta Aquariids) typically put on a very good show, generally reaching rates of about 40-85 meteors an hour. They are usually one of the best meteor showers of the year, so make sure that you get out to see them. 🙂 This year is looking particularly good, as the peak will be happening simultaneously with the New Moon, so the sky will be very dark, the perfect environment for watching meteors.
The best time for watching will be in the very early morning hours on Sunday May 5th. Sometime in the roughly 4-5 hour period of time before dawn should be the best. The meteors will look like they radiating out from the constellation of Aquarius, specifically the brightest star in the constellation — Eta Aquarii, located in the southeastern portion of the sky.
The higher that this point of origination is in the sky (from where/when you are viewing), the more meteors that you will see. What you are looking for is the right balance of a radiant high in the sky, and the darkest hours of the night.
While the Eta Aquarids will very likely put on a great show, there a good number of other spectacular meteor showers this year, some which will probably be even better. See: Meteor Showers 2013 Dates and Times, Geminids, Leonids, Perseids, Orionids, Draconids, Taurids, Ursids, Etc
In order to make sure that you see as many meteors as possible, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The darker that it is from where you are watching, the better. Try to get as far away from city lights as you can. You’ll also need to give your eyes a fair bit of time to fully adjust to the dark, which can take up to a half hour depending on the person. This also means that you need o turn off all of your bright electronic devices, or at the very least dim them as much as possible. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind though, is to get comfortable. Warm clothes, blankets, hot coffee, hot chocolate, etc, all go a long way towards making the experience more fun.
As a side note, and something else to keep in mind; after Comet ISON makes its way around the Sun in December, it will very likely leave behind a debris trail that we will pass through in late January, very likely sparking a meteor shower.