Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower and Blue Moon Both Happening in May, Here's What To Look For

full moon dusk blue sun
A full moon glows at dusk in the cloud-filled sky over Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The month of May is the first of the year where spending time outside to enjoy the view of the night sky isn't made unpleasant by the lingering winter cold. There are two big events awaiting sky gazers during the month of May: the Eta Aquarids meteor shower and the full blue moon later in the month.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is up first, visible in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. The shower peaked on Monday morning but some of the shooting stars were still expected to be visible during the week.

Overall, the meteor shower was expected to be easier to see for those in the Southern Hemisphere where the radiant, or the part of the sky the meteors appear to come from, is easier to spot.

Those in the Northern Hemisphere still have a chance to see them though. They'll have the best chance at spotting one of the shooting stars by heading outside and facing east around 3 a.m.

The meteors in the Eta Aquarid shower come from the trail of dust and rocks left behind by Halley's Comet. The comet only passes by Earth once every 75 years but when it does, it leaves a trail of debris that the Earth passes through each year around the same time. That debris is what causes the meteor shower. When the debris enters Earth's atmosphere, it burns up creating what's seen on Earth's surface as a shooting star.

Later in the month of May, the full blue moon will be visible, though it won't appear blue as its name implies. The moon is called a blue moon because its the fourth full moon in a season, something that doesn't usually happen. It's also called the Flower Moon due to the fact that it usually happens when the spring flowers and wildflowers are blooming.

The blue moons only appear about once every two and a half years, according to NASA. This year it will be happening on May 18 and the moon will reach its peak fullness in the early evening, meaning anyone who takes a look that night will be able to see it if the night is clear and relatively cloudless.