May 30, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — There’s a possibility of a new meteor shower tonight, but scientists have mixed opinions on whether it will be notable or even noticeable, a statement from NASA says.
“Excitement has sparked a lot of information about the tau Herculids. Some has been accurate, and some has not,” the agency statement says. “Some astronomers predict a dazzling display of tau Herculids could be ‘hit or miss.'”
The NASA statement says the agency is “encouraging eager skywatchers to channel their inner scientists.”
And it offered these facts:
- On the night of May 30 into the early morning of May 31, Earth will pass through the debris trails of a broken comet called 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3.
- The comet, which broke into large fragments back in 1995, won’t reach this point in its orbit until August.
- If the fragments from were ejected with speeds greater than twice the normal speeds—fast enough to reach Earth—we might get a meteor shower.
- Spitzer observations published in 2009 indicate that at least some fragments are moving fast enough. This is one reason why astronomers are excited.
- If a meteor shower does occur, the tau Herculids move slowly by meteor standards – they will be faint.
Observers in North America under clear, dark skies have the best chance of seeing a tau Herculid shower. The peak time to watch is around 1 a.m. on the East Coast or 10 p.m. on the West Coast.