A Gift from Halley’s Comet: The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower in Photos

Eta Aquarids fireball and twin meteors over Half Dome, California

David Hoffman/Alamy

The Eta Aquarids are one of two annual showers caused by Halley's Comet. (The other one is the Orionids, in October.) They are named after their apparent "radiant" point in the constellation Aquarius, near one of its brightest stars, Eta Aquarii. Astrophotographer David Hoffman captured this cool photo of an Eta Aquarid fireball and twin meteors over Half Dome, California at Yosemite National Park in May 2014.

Halley's Comet


The comet whose trail of crumbs causes the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower is Halley's Comet. In 1986, the two Soviet Union's two Vega spacecraft flew by the comet and snapped about 1,500 images of the icy space rock. The closest approach of Vega 1 to Halley was 5,524 miles (8,890 kilometers) while Vega 2 had a close encounter at 4,990 miles (8,030 km).

Edmond Halley

Hulton Archive/Getty

Edmond Halley (1656 - 1742) was the English scientist and astronomer who gave his name to the famous comet after accurately predicting its arrival around the year 1740. [Edmond Halley Biography: Facts, Discoveries and Quotes]

Halley's Comet


This photo of Halley's Comet was taken in April of 1986 from the Kuiper Airborne Observatory — a NASA telescope mounted on a Lockheed C141 Starliner jet. [Photos of Halley's Comet Through History]

Fireball at Devil's Tower

David Kingham/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An Eta Aquarid fireball lights up the sky over Devils Tower, part of the Bear Lodge Mountains in Wyoming. Astrophotographer David Kingham captured this shot during the 2013 Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

Meteors over Wales

Kris Williams/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Astrophotographer Kris Williams captured this photo of an Eta Aquarid meteor from Snowdonia National Park in Wales on May 6, 2013. "Atop a peak and overlooking the classic Snowdon Horseshoe view in the distance, with the company of an old hawthorn just starting to bud for Spring, and one of the many Eta Aquarid meteors that shot overhead tonight as part of their annual storm," Williams wrote on his Flickr page.

Eta Aquarids and the Moon

Mike Lewinski/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

"To the right of the moon ... the tail is green and the leading part reddish," astrophotographer Mike Lewinski wrote when he shared this photo of an Eta Aquarid meteor on Flickr in 2013. "I debated what lens to use when shooting this shower, as experience was telling me the tails would be short. I went with the 18mm over 16mm, but am thinking now that I could have gone with the 55mm and captured this one much better," he said.

Bright Fireball

Rocky Raybell/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Astrophotographer Rocky Raybell captured this bright fireball during the Eta Aquarid meteor shower of 2013.

Meteors & the Milky Way

Diana Robinson/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Astrophotographer Diana Robinson captured this stunning view of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower and the Milky Way from the Babcock Wildlife Refuge in Florida on May 16, 2013.

Japanese Fireball

Noriaki Tanaka/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

An Eta Aquarid fireball dashes across the sky in this photo taken by Noriaki Tanaka on May 4, 2014 in Nagano, Japan.

Eta Aquarids Southern Sky

Indigo Skies Photography/Flickr/cc BY-NC-ND 2.0

An Eta Aquarid meteor streaks across the Milky Way on May 7, 2016.

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