Oh, she's here?
Eighties flashback: Celebrity Halley's Comet shines anew
Just when you thought the 80s revival was over, in comes a name from the past: Halley's Comet, that celebrity solar system wanderer who we haven't heard from since 1986.
She's back, and in a big way. After a 24-year absence from the inner solar system, the comet is littering the dawn sky this week in what is called the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Under the ideal conditions of a dark, moonless sky, about 40 meteorites can be seen per hour. From where we stand, however, there's one little obstacle: the "radiant" (the emanation point of these meteors) is at the "Water Jar" of the constellation Aquarius, which comes above the southeast horizon at around 3 a.m. local time and never gets very high for viewers from north temperate latitudes.
In effect, the actual observed rates are much lower than the assumed 40 per hour. Of course, that shouldn't stop you from sneaking a peek of the phenomenon at Brazos Bend's George Observatory.
In the southern hemisphere, where Aquarius rises much higher in the sky, this is considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year. Finally, you have the perfect excuse to book that last-minute ticket to Sidney, Capetown or Buenos Aires. Blame the spontaneity on your zodiac.
Fun fact: Contrary to popular belief, the comet is not a derivative tribute to Halle Berry. Although generally pronounced with a strong "A" (as in Haylie Duff), the comet is named after astronomer Edmond Halley, whose name is pronounced similarly to "holly."