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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Climate change is making NJ and NY into wildfire hotspots

The chances of wildfires in New York and New Jersey are increasing. In a new nationwide analysis of weather conditions over the past 50 years, the research nonprofit Climate Central found that the annual number of days that have a…

Ask Don Paul: Is El Nino adding fuel to the global warming flame?

Until late winter, the world was experiencing a rare 3 year stretch of La Nina conditions, during which cooler waters migrate eastward in the tropical Pacific, and help to produce some relative cooling on a global basis. In reality, what…

CNN’s Chief Climate Change Alarmist Praises NY’s Natural Gas Ban

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Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., left one Biden administration official without words Wednesday when he pressed him to answer one simple question: How much would spending $50 trillion in American taxpayer money to become carbon-neutral lower global temperatures? “If we spend…

New York Is The First State to Ban Gas in New Homes, Buildings

New York has become the first US state to pass a law banning gas stoves and other fossil fuels in most new buildings in a victory for environmental activists. The legislation adopted by lawmakers in the Democratic-run state legislature late…

2023 Eta Aquariid meteor shower: All you need to know

Meteor shower chart: constellation Aquarius with radial arrows near middle of it next to Water Jar label.
The radiant point of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower is near the star Eta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. The radiant rises in the wee hours after midnight and is still climbing toward its highest point at dawn. That highest point is in the south as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, closer to overhead for the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why the Southern Hemisphere sees more meteors (the radiant is higher up), and it’s why – for all of us around the globe – the hours before dawn are best for this shower. However, in 2023, a bright moon will compete with the meteor shower.

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May 2023 meteors … the Eta Aquariids

Moonlight will obscure the 2023 Eta Aquariids.

When to watch: Full moon falls near the peak of the 2023 Eta Aquariid shower. If you want to try watching in moonlight, try the mornings of May 5, 6 and 7, 2023, in the hours before dawn. Why before dawn? See Radiant chart above. The American Meteor Society is listing 15 UTC on May 6 as the shower’s predicted** peak time. But times vary between different experts. And the peak of this shower stretches out over several days. So you can expected elevated numbers of meteors a few days before and after the peak time … albeit in moonlight.
Nearest moon phase: In 2023, full moon will fall at 17:34 UTC on May 5. Moonlight will obscure the 2023 Eta Aquariids.
Radiant: Rises in the wee hours, climbing toward its highest point at dawn. That’s why before dawn is the best time to watch this shower.
Duration of shower: April 15 to May 27.
Expected meteors at peak, under ideal conditions: In the southern half of the U.S., you might see 10 to 20 meteors per hour under a dark sky, with no moon, when the radiant is high in the sky. Farther south – at latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere – you might see two to three times that number.
Note: The Eta Aquariids’ radiant is on the ecliptic, which rides low in the sky on spring mornings as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. That’s why this shower favors the Southern Hemisphere. It’s often that hemisphere’s best meteor shower of the year … but not in 2023, when moonlight will drown out most meteors.

Visit EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2023

Report a fireball (very bright meteor) to the American Meteor Society: it’s fun and easy!

The Eta Aquariids’ parent comet

This section is by the late, great Don Machholz (1952-2022), who discovered 12 comets …

The object responsible for the Eta Aquariid meteor shower – that is, its parent comet – is the famous Halley’s Comet. This comet is in a retrograde orbit around the sun. That means it runs around the sun in the opposite direction from Earth and all the other planets. As a result, we pass near its path twice, one time along the outbound portion of the comet’s orbit. That happens every early May, causing the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. The other time is along the inbound portion of the comet’s orbit, and that passage causes the Orionid meteor shower in late October of each year.

Halley’s Comet orbits the sun on an average of every 76 years (the range is from 74 through 79 years due to perturbations of the planets). So, in most years, the comet is nowhere near when we sweep through its orbit, and when debris left behind by the comet enters our atmosphere to create Halley’s two meteor showers.

Perhaps you saw Halley’s Comet when it returned last, in 1985/86. It has been observed since the year 240 BCE. Halley’s Comet will be back in 2061. Presently the comet is traveling away from the sun at about 0.6 miles a second (0.9 km/sec). In the year 2023, Halley’s Comet is beyond the orbit of Pluto.

In November or December of 2023, the comet will reach its farthest point from the sun that binds it in orbit. Then – pulled inexorably by the sun’s gravity – it will curve around and head back toward the inner solar system again.

While waiting for Halley’s Comet to return, watch for the next best thing: the Eta Aquariid meteor shower in early May.

Bright white comet with wide glowing tail streaming out from it in starry deep blue sky.
Halley’s comet, the parent of the May Eta Aquariid and October Orionid meteor showers. Dust from this comet will light the night as Eta Aquariid meteors on the morning of May 5. Image via NASA.

More about this shower’s radiant

If you trace the paths of the Eta Aquariid meteors backward, they all seem to radiate from a certain point in front of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. This point on the sky’s dome is called the radiant of the meteor shower, which nearly aligns with the faint star Eta Aquarii. Hence, this meteor shower gets its name from this star.

Eta Aquarii is one of the four stars making up the Y-shaped Water Jar asterism in the northern part of Aquarius. If you can find the Water Jar in the constellation Aquarius, you’ve as good as located the radiant point for the Eta Aquariid meteors. The alignment of the radiant and the star is, of course, coincidental. Eta Aquarii is some 170 light-years away – trillions upon trillions of miles away – while the Eta Aquariid meteors burn up nearby – only 60 miles (100 km) above Earth’s surface.

Meteor shower radiants are sometimes misunderstood by casual meteor-watchers. You don’t need to know where they are to watch a meteor shower. That’s because the meteors fly every which way across the sky, in front of numerous constellations. However, the higher a shower’s radiant appears in your sky, the more meteors you’re likely to see. For the Eta Aquariids, the radiant soars highest in the nighttime sky just before dawn. That’s one of the reasons why you can expect to see the most meteors in the wee morning hours.

How to view a meteor shower

As with all meteors in annual showers, no special equipment to watch the Eta Aquariids. But a little luck always helps.

Find a dark, open sky away from artificial lights, and sprawl out on a reclining lawn chair.

Make yourself comfortable with a hot flask of you favorite beverage. Keep warm but not so snug that you fall asleep!

Meteor watching is a lot like fishing. Sometimes you catch a good number of them, and sometimes you don’t.

Eta Aquariid meteor shower photos from EarthSky’s community

Thin vertical bright line in dark blue sky, with a tall saguaro cactus in the foreground.
You can see the Eta Aquariids’ radiant point – the Water Jar asterism in the constellation Aquarius, visible as a noticeable pattern of 4 stars in the top left – in this photo by Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona, on May 4, 2020. Thank you, Eliot! Used with permission.
Cloudy stretch of stars with streak in left corner.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Mary Jo Machnica in Hamburg, New York, captured this photo of an Eta Aquariid on May 6, 2021. She wrote: “I knew that the Eta Aquariids meteor mhower was going to peak this morning. I took a nap, not setting my alarm. If I was awoken I would go out. 3 was peak viewing. I awoke at 2 AM. Ezra and I head out. Not going too far from home. I knew there was going to be a ton of light pollution. But, it didn’t matter. I just needed to be under the stars. Needing to feel small. Needing to know that the G-d of the Universe is in control of everything. Getting there right before 3 AM. I set up my camera. Super damp out! Glad I have my lens warmer. With everything set up. I just keep taking photo after photo hoping to capture a glimpse of a meteor. I see a couple meteors with my eyes, but they don’t show up in the photo … That’s ok. I keep snapping away. Talking out loud to the Creator of the Universe. Just Ezra and I was talking, this shot was taken.”

Bottom line: May’s Eta Aquariid meteor shower has a broad peak and often can be watched over several mornings. But, in 2023, moonlight interferes.

**Predicted peak times and dates for meteor showers are from the American Meteor Society. Note that meteor shower peak times can vary. Back to top.

Read more: Why the Eta Aquariids are best from the Southern Hemisphere.

Meteor showers: Tips for watching the show

A penumbral eclipse of the moon is very subtle

Full moon in penumbral eclipse; there's a shading on one side of the moon.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Nils Ribi in Sun Valley, Idaho, caught the November 30, 2020, penumbral lunar eclipse. He wrote: “The penumbral eclipse of the full moon, November 30, 2020, at 2:43 a.m., the time of greatest eclipse, in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was nice to see that the eclipse was not that faint here.” Thank you, Nils!

The next penumbral lunar eclipse: May 5-6, 2023

An eclipse of the moon can only happen at full moon, when the sun, Earth and moon line up in space, with Earth in the middle. So at such times, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, creating a lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses happen a minimum of two times to a maximum of five times a year. As a matter of fact, there are three kinds of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral.

Diagram with Earth between sun and moon showing moon passing through Earth's shadow.
In a lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon. And if the moon passes through the dark central shadow of Earth – the umbra – a partial or total lunar eclipse takes place. Then, if the moon only passes through the outer part of the shadow – the penumbra – a subtle penumbral eclipse occurs. Diagram via Fred Espenak/ Lunar Eclipses for Beginners. Used with permission.

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The three types of lunar eclipses

In a total eclipse of the moon, the inner part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, falls on the moon’s face. Then at mid-eclipse, the entire moon is in shadow, which may appear blood red.

Next, there is a partial lunar eclipse, where the umbra takes a bite out of only a fraction of the moon. The dark bite grows larger, and then recedes, never reaching the total phase.

Finally, there’s a penumbral lunar eclipse, when only the more diffuse outer shadow of Earth – the penumbra – falls on the moon’s face. In fact, this third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle, and much more difficult to observe, than either a total or partial eclipse of the moon. That’s because there is never a dark bite taken out of the moon, as in a partial eclipse. So the eclipse never progresses to reach the dramatic minutes of totality. And at best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others will look and notice nothing at all.

According to eclipse expert Fred Espenak, about 35% of all eclipses are penumbral. Another 30% are partial eclipses, where it appears as if a dark bite has been taken out of the moon. And the final 35% go all the way to becoming total eclipses of the moon, a beautiful natural event.

What to expect from a penumbral eclipse

Two full moons side by side with the one on the right slightly shaded.
View larger. | Left, an ordinary full moon with no eclipse. Right, full moon in penumbral eclipse on November 20, 2002. Master eclipse photographer Fred Espenak took this photo when the moon was 88.9% immersed in Earth’s penumbral shadow. There’s no dark bite taken out of the moon. A penumbral eclipse creates only a dark shading on the moon’s face. Image via Fred Espenak. Used with permission.

Some eclipse photos

Orange-red full moon.
This is what a total eclipse looks like. This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004. Image via Fred Espenak.
Composite image showing 4 stages of the partial lunar eclipse.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Lorraine Boyd in Delmar, New York, wrote: “Even though we had cloudy skies, there were breaks and I was able to capture the full Beaver Moon partial lunar eclipse. It was a beautiful sight to see.” It was, wasn’t it? Thank you, Lorraine!
Penumbral eclipse of the moon.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Here is the penumbral eclipse of July 4-5, 2020. As you can see, it’s not very noticeable. Greg Redfern in central Virginia commented: “Taken at maximum eclipse for the penumbral lunar eclipse. May be some shading in the upper left quadrant.” Thank you, Greg.

Bottom line: There are three kinds of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral. A penumbral eclipse is very subtle. At no time does a dark bite appear to be taken out of the moon. Instead, at mid-eclipse, observant people will notice a shading on the moon’s face.

Next penumbral lunar eclipse: May 5-6, 2023

D.C. Climate Activists Smear Paint On ‘Little Dancer’ Sculpture

Crusading climate activists targeted the renowned “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture in Washington D.C. on Thursday when they smeared its glass case and pedestal with black and red paint. The two protesters were hauled off by police inside the National…

CNY breaks another April heat record; climate expert says it’s a sign of global warming –

Syracuse, N.Y. — An already extraordinarily hot April has now become unprecedented, and climate change is likely part of the reason, New York’s top climate expert believes. “I really do think now we’re starting to see the issues of the…

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