The Meteor Shower of Memorial Day Weekend can be sensational… or not

There is a possibility that a light shower of stars known as Tau Herculidas occurs during this long Memorial Day weekend.

Or that this astronomical event is the brightest meteor shower of the year and one of the strongest in decades, if it happens at all.

It will be a great show or just a few flashes of shooting stars in the sky, as NASA has predicted, in the night sky, on the night of May 30-31. Called Tau-Herculidas, this shower results from the debris cloud formed by the breakup of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (SW3).

After its discovery in 1930, the comet disappeared until it reappeared in the 1970s. When it was rediscovered, it was difficult to detect without a telescope. But in 1995, further follow-up noted that the comet had become about 600 times brighter and relatively easier to spot with the naked eye.

Comet SW3 breaks up into several pieces. In 2006, when it approached Earth, it was made up of about 70 fragments. NASA says that if meteorites reach Earth this year, they could enter the earth’s atmosphere at a relatively slower speed, around 8 m/h or arrive traveling at more than 220 m/h, and this would make a big difference.

The Tau Herculid shower depends on the speed of the comet’s debris

The next meteor shower should be quite bright as it will be high in the sky. Also, the absence of the Moon would make the event much easier to detect, especially in the northern hemisphere.

“This event will be all or nothing. If the debris from SW3 is traveling faster than 220 m/h when it breaks away from the comet, then we could see a nice meteor shower. If the debris has slower ejection velocities, nothing will reach Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,” Bill Cooke, who directs NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a statement. According to the space agency, If the cometary debris reaches high speed, this shower of shooting stars would be the most powerful in several decades.

“Meteors are not rare,” said Bill Cooke. “Earth is bombarded every day by millions of fragments of interplanetary debris that pass through our solar system.” When they are visible in the night sky, we see them as shooting stars.

Most particles are no larger than dust and sand. Hitting the upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 miles per second, they ignite and burn up. On any given night, the average person can see 4 to 8 meteors per hour.

Meteor showers, however, are caused by flows of comets and debris from asteroids, which create many more flashes and beams of light as the Earth passes through the debris field. And they can cause impressive meteor showers.

Whether it’s a faint meteor shower or a grand extravaganza of hundreds of them, if you can, take a look if you’re in North America under clear, dark skies around 1am ET on May 31 – you just might be able to see it. , according to NASA.

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