Remarkable Facts About The Tau Herculids Shower
For skywatchers and space aficionados, the last few months have already been stunning. However, the Tau Herculids, a stunning “all or nothing” meteor shower visible across much of the continental United States, could occur at the end of May.
When should you look out for the Tau Herculid meteor shower?
The Tau Herculids meteor shower is expected to peak on May 30th, according to NASA. It will last till the early hours of May 31.
Meteor showers are a common occurrence on Earth. In fact, there’s so much junk in space that dust and other particles are continually crashing into the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of it, though, is very fine dust that burns up rapidly and quietly in the atmosphere. Large fields of debris entering the atmosphere, on the other hand, are the most common cause of meteor showers.
Every year, as those fields of debris, make their way past the Earth, millions come to see the spectacle. The Tau Herculids shower, unlike the Eta Aquariids, which peaked in early May, isn’t a sure thing. In fact, NASA’s Bill Cooke claims that the shower is “all or nothing.”
What is the source of this meteor shower?
Tau Herculids, like most meteor showers we’ve come to know and love, originated with a comet. In 1930, the comet was first discovered. The comet was discovered by German obersevers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann, who named it 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3. The comet orbits the sun every 5.4 years, according to scientists. It wasn’t seen again until the late 1970s, though.
The comet appeared to be rather normal for the most part. However, astronomers discovered in 1995 that it had become significantly brighter. It was nearly 600 times brighter and plainly visible with the naked eye when it had previously been a smudge in the sky. Scientists dug deeper and discovered that the comet had fragmented into many fragments.
The comet was over 70 pieces when it passed us again in 2006. If the Tau Herculids shower comes near the end of May, it will be caused by this fragmented debris. SW3 debris, if it reaches Earth this year, will strike at a speed of only 10 miles per second, according to scientists.
As a result, meteor showers will be much fainter. The Tau Herculid radiant, on the other hand, NASA predicts to be high in the sky. We shouldn’t have to worry about moonlight washing away the meteorites because the Moon is fresh.
There is still no guarantee that it will happen. It all depends on how fast the debris field moved after it broke from the comet. Cooke predicts that we won’t see any meteors from this comet if it isn’t moving fast enough.