Lunar eclipse, Eta Aquarid meteor shower to grace night skies this May

Two astronomical phenomenon– a total lunar eclipse and the Eta Aquarid meteor shower — will be observed in the night skies this month of May, the state weather bureau said.

According to the astronomical diary of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the total lunar eclipse will occur on May 26 and will be visible in the Philippines.

The entire event will be seen in South or East Asia, Australia, much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Antarctica.

The eclipse will begin at 4:47 p.m. and will end at 9:49 p.m., Philippine Standard Time (PhST).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explained that the total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and sun are on opposite sides of Earth.

PAGASA advised that lunar eclipses are safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes. A pair of binocular will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the moon brighter.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower on the other hand usually occurs between April 19 and May 28 and peaks during early May each year.

“The shower occurs each year as a result of the Earth’s passing close to the orbit of Halley’s comet twice a year. The point from where the meteors appear to radiate is located within the constellation Aquarius,” PAGASA stated.

The radiance of the meteor shower will virtually lie on the celestial equator and is more favorable to southern hemisphere viewers. In the Northern Hemisphere, about 20 or more meteors per hour at the pre-dawn sky of May 6 to 7 may be seen, it added.

NASA explained that the Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed, traveling at about 148,000 mph or 66 km/s into Earth’s atmosphere.

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