Intergalactic show sparks interest

Perth residents can expect to see a unique celestial show light up the night sky this week.

The event, called the Eta Aquariid, is a shower made up of debris left behind by Halley’s comet.

Astronomy enthusiast Brendan O’Brien says he is excited to see it.

Brendan O’Brien says he and his friends are excited to see the Eta Aquariid. Photo: Brendan O’Brien.

“You can expect higher rates of showers because the Eta Aquariid is going to be passing through a denser region of Halley’s comet’s debris trail.”

According to, an astronomy news website, Halley’s Comet is one of the most famous comets in history.

The comet can only be seen once every 75 years. Its next return isn’t expected until after 2060.

Mr O’Brien says the meteor shower only comes once a year.

“For those who aren’t sure whether this shower’s worth watching, give it a chance. It’s not every day we get to see the Eta Aquariid reach its peak.”

Perth Observatory tour administrator Matthew Woods says people should wake up early to witness the spectacle.

“An ideal spot for viewing the shower would be up north, by the countryside,” he says.

“You’ll have unrestricted views of the stars from there.

“Just make sure you’re up at 3 or 4am, because that’s when the shower’s expected to happen.”

Astrotourism Western Australia has a map of astrophotography hot spots for people hoping to get good observing sites.

Planetary science doctor Ellie Samson says more people are embracing stargazing.

“With the eclipse happening just weeks ago and the meteor shower coming up, it definitely has the potential to inspire people,” she says.

Doctor Ellie Samson is passionate about meteorites and the showers they come from. Photo: Carolyn Tan.

Dr Samson says the Eta Aquariids will be easy to view from the Southern Hemisphere, which is ideal for people in Perth.

“The only downside is seeing as there will be a full moon on that night, it’s going to be very bright, which could disrupt your view of the showers.”

Dr Samson says they are expecting around 50 to 60 meteors per hour for the Eta Aquariid.

“Don’t be too disappointed if you have to wait a while,” she says.

Hear more from Ellie Samson.

Dr Samson says scientists will only be able to observe the shower, rather than collecting physical samples.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to collect any meteorites from this shower as they will disintegrate moments after reaching the Earth’s atmosphere.”

One of the cameras used by Dr Samson and her team to observe meteorites. Photo: Carolyn Tan.

“The meteorites from the Eta Aquariids shower are already very small, we’re looking at probably 1cm in size, with most of them being in the range of millimetres.”

Dr Samson says the name of the shower is actually tied to a well-known constellation.

“We name our meteor showers after the constellation that they look like they’re coming from.”

“For the Eta Aquariids, the name stems from the constellation Aquarius.”