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Two Meteor Showers Overlapping Above Oregon / Washington Coast, Another Peak Coming

Published 04/25/22 at 5:32 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Meteors Overlapping Above Oregon / Washington Coast, Another Peak Coming

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(Portland, Oregon) – From one set of meteor showers to another, right now the skies above the Oregon coast and Washington coast are seeing the transition and overlap of two different meteor showers. (Photo courtesy NASA)

The Lyrids are still happening right now, going through April 29. Their peak was recently, on April 21 and 22. Also happening at this time are the Eta Aquariids, which take place from April 15 through May 27, with their peak coming up on May 4, 5 and 6.

According to OMSI astronomer Jim Todd, the Earth passes through the tail of Comet Thatcher about this time, resulting in the Lyrid meteor showers.

“These meteors tend to be bright and often leave trails,” Todd said. “About 10-20 meteors per hour at peak can be expected.”

This last week's recent peak was a letdown, however, since the skies above the Oregon coast and Washington coast – as well as the inland portions – were covered in clouds and rain showers.

If skies are clear along the coastlines, they'll be perfect spots to watch for both meteor showers as there is little to no light pollution on many beaches, from Brookings all the way up through La Push.

The Eta Aquarids come from the quite famous Halley's Comet as the Earth passes through that debris trail.

In the northern hemisphere, they often produce 10 to 30 per hour, perhaps a little more than the Lyrids. As the two showers overlap between now and the 29th, this will be a good time to look up if you're on the Washington coast or Oregon coast. They are a stronger presence on the southern hemisphere, however, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

The AMS said they usually create some good trails but few fireballs. Peak of the Eta Aquariids is over a few days, especially May 4 - 6, but the AMS said there's more on either side of those days as well.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

Halley's Comet is a ball of ice and rock that is left over from the formation of our solar system, only seen once every 75 years. The last time Earthlings saw it was 1986, and it's not due to return until 2061. However, Halley's made a disappointing appearance in the Pacific Northwest almost four decades ago

. As it continues zipping around our solar system, it leaves behind a dusty trail which provides for two meteor showers per year on Earth. The Orionids in October come from that tail as well.

The vast majority of the Washington coast is untouched by streetlights at night if you're on the beach, so most areas between Long Beach and Westport will be prime.

Along the Oregon coast, most beaches are also a nice shade of dark, however a few more places on the northern half will have some light pollution, such as some parts of Lincoln City, Newport and Seaside. Still, it's not hard to get away to any unlit areas.

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