The dawn of Thursday (5) was a spectacle apart for astronomers from all over Brazil. The country recorded hundreds of meteors in several states, especially in the interior of São Paulo, and in the north of Paraná and Santa Catarina — the state alone recorded about 300 fragments in the sky.
Many of them are debris from Halley’s Comet. At the end of this month, it will be possible to see a new meteor shower, with a peak on May 31, predicted to be the largest in the last 20 years, according to astronomer Marcelo Zurita, technical director of Bramon (Brazilian Meteor Monitoring Network).
“This outbreak can generate hundreds, thousands of meteors per hour, something very impressive for those who observe. It will be an unusual activity. Perhaps the most intense in 20 years”, says Zurita.
With stations in 20 Brazilian states, the network of autonomous astronomers recorded, at dawn on Thursday, the meteor shower called ETA Aquarids. “In theory, the North and Northeast of Brazil would be more privileged for observation, but time has not cooperated in these regions”, says Zurita.
Instead, better conditions ended up happening in the South. In Monte Claro, northern Santa Catarina, the sky was clear, cloudless and moonless, which made it possible to record 300 meteors.
“Of these, at least 120 are debris from Halley’s comet, and they began to appear around 3 am. They belong to the ETA Aquárids meteor shower”, says astronomer Jocimar Justino de Souza, from the Bramon station in Santa Catarina. “Today (6), there were also records, but it was at a lower intensity, only 40”, he says.
Zurita reinforces that the ETA Aquáridas will be visible until May 12, but the activity should continue in a less intense way.
With good weather conditions, anyone can see the meteors with small telescopes, binoculars, and especially with the naked eye. “As they are quite fast, they can leave the field of vision of the equipment with speed. With the naked eye, it is possible to follow their passage with greater efficiency”, explains Souza.
To better observe, the tip is to move away from the city lights and turn off all lighting, so the place is as dark as possible. “The lights decrease the sensitivity of our vision and dazzle the faintest meteors”, says Zurita.
The best time for observation is from 2 am, with peaks in the late morning. “You’ll have to wake up early,” says the astronomer.