Hit or miss? Here's what NASA has to say about May 30-31 meteor shower

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 28-05-2022 09:11 IST | Created: 28-05-2022 09:11 IST
Hit or miss? Here's what NASA has to say about May 30-31 meteor shower
Representative image Image Credit: Flickr

Skywatchers are excited about a possible new meteor shower - the tau Herculids - early next week. However, sometimes events like this, as NASA says, don't live up to expectations – for instance, it happened with the 2019 Alpha Monocerotid shower.

Some astronomers predict a dazzling display of tau Herculids meteor shower could be "hit or miss". We can't be certain what we'll see. We can only hope it's spectacular, NASA said.

Here are the key facts about Tau Herculids:

German astronomers discovered a comet named 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3 in 1930 when it passed within 5.8 million miles of the Earth. SW3 seemed pretty normal until 1995, when astronomers realized the comet had become about 600 times brighter and went from a faint smudge to being visible with the naked eye during its passage. Upon further investigation, they found that SW3 had shattered into several pieces and in 2006, it was in nearly 70 pieces and has continued to fragment further since then.

On the night of May 30 into the early morning of May 31, Earth will pass through the debris trails of this broken comet. According to NASA, if the fragments were ejected at speeds greater than twice the normal speeds - fast enough to reach Earth - we might get a meteor shower. And, if a meteor shower does occur, they will be faint.

The possible newcomer will be high in the night sky at the forecast peak time, around 1 AM on the East Coast or 10 PM on the West Coast in North America.

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