Bad weather is bad news for Hong Kong stargazers looking for Halley's Comet meteor shower

Bad weather is bad news for Hong Kong stargazers looking for Halley's Comet meteor shower

The Eta Aquarids shower, which is active between April and May each year, was expected to be at its brightest on Monday night


Showers are expected in Hong Kong until Thursday, poor weather for stargazing.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

If you were hoping to wish upon a shooting star tonight, you’re likely to be disappointed, as wet weather is forecast for the early part of the week.

The Hong Kong Observatory said there would be occasional showers and a few squally thunderstorms from Monday to Thursday as a trough of low pressure was affecting Guangdong and the northern part of the South China Sea. Temperatures will range from 20 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees.

But skies will brighten up later in the week.

“As the trough of low pressure departs from the coastal areas later this week, showers will ease off and the weather will improve over the region,” the Observatory said on Sunday.

However, the cloudy and wet weather might ruin plans for skywatchers hoping to see hundreds of shooting stars on Monday night.

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower, created by debris from Halley’s Comet, was expected to be at its brightest on Monday night. The meteor shower is active between April and May every year.

“The gloomy weather is not ideal for stargazing because the clouds might block views of the shooting stars,” Observatory scientific officer Andy Lai Wang-chun said.

The best views of the meteor shower are in the southern hemisphere, where there is a chance of seeing up to 40 shooting stars per hour. In the northern hemisphere, watchers are expected to see about 30 an hour.

An amateur stargazer said the last time Halley’s Comet passed through the inner solar system was in 1986 and it would only make its next swing around the sun in 42 years but small particles from it came around every year. The comet is only visible from Earth around every 76 years and will next appear in 2061.

“Debris from the comet is often left behind in the orbit, usually the size of sand or grit, and sometimes when air friction causes the particles to burn, they form these momentary bright streaks that blaze across the sky,” said Lung Ka-fai, committee member of the Sky Observers’ Organisation.

Lung said Monday’s weather would mean viewing conditions were not the best for onlookers.

“Despite the favourable conditions for the shooting stars, the rain and clouds will make it very difficult for the public to see the meteor showers,” he added. “It’s very likely we will not see any, unfortunately.”

He said shooting stars were best seen away from light sources such as in the countryside.

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