Eta Aquarids meteor shower peaks this week

Story highlights

  • The meteor shower is created by debris from Halley's Comet
  • Observers in the Southern Hemisphere will see a highly visible meteor shower

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(CNN)The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will put on a brilliant show for stargazers as it peaks Thursday evening and Friday morning.

The annual light show starts in mid-April but really starts to dazzle in the first week of May. It's created by the dusty debris left behind by Halley's Comet, which flew by Earth in 1986.
    Although the famous comet won't be entering our solar system again until 2061, its remnants appear in our skies each year. The frozen particles from the comet disintegrate in our atmosphere, creating a bright and colorful display.
    The Eta Aquarids are highly visible for people living in the Southern Hemisphere, but more difficult to observe for those north of the equator.
    Observers in the Northern Hemisphere can expect to see about 10 meteors per hour. They can also see "earthgrazers," long meteors that seem as though they are skimming the surface of our planet, just along the horizon.
    These meteors are known for their speed, traveling about 148,000 mph into ​the Earth's atmosphere. Since they are moving by so quickly, they often leave behind "trains," glowing bits of debris that streak the night sky.
    No special equipment is required to view the celestial event. All observers need are clear skies.