(USATODAY.com) - After a long, cold winter, skywatchers finally can enjoy a meteor shower late tonight without shivering, especially across portions of the southern USA.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, also known as the Aquarids, will put on a show "in the wee hours before dawn" Tuesday morning, according to astronomy website EarthSky. Though mainly visible in the tropics and in the Southern Hemisphere, people across the southern USA also should be able to enjoy the show.
"The Aquarids can be viewed in the southeastern portion of the sky, with 10-20 meteors an hour at the peak prior to dawn on Tuesday," according to AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Doll.
The moon will have set by that time, helping the view of the meteors.
Most of the southern tier of the nation should be cloud-free overnight, according to AccuWeather. Much of the northern USA, in addition to having fewer meteors to see, will have sky-obscuring clouds.
The name of the Eta Aquarid meteors came from tracing their paths backward. They all seem to radiate from in front of the constellation Aquarius, according to EarthSky. In particular, they come from the faint star Eta Aquarii, so the meteor shower is named in honor of this star.
The Eta Aquarid is one of Earth's two meteor showers that come from the debris trail of the famed Halley's Comet. The other is the Orionid meteor shower, which occurs each October.
The meteors are pieces of dust and ice from the comet that hurl into the atmosphere at 148,000 mph.
Though the shower will be at its peak early Tuesday, some meteors will be visible early Wednesday morning.