A NEW meteor shower could materialize from a crumbling comet and here’s how to watch it.
On the evening of Monday, May 30, astronomy lovers may get to see a brand new meteor shower light up the night sky.
Dubbed the ‘tau Herculids’, this meteor display might be one of the most dramatic observed in over two decades, according to Space.com.
What are meteor showers?
Meteor showers occur when dust or particles from asteroids or comets enter Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed.
This particular display of ‘shooting stars’ is expected to be the product of a comet named 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, also known as SW3.
SW3 was first discovered in 1930 but did not reappear again until the 1970s, Republic World reports.
And then in 1995, astronomers observed the comet’s nucleus split into four smaller chunks, per CNET.
Since then, the comet has only disintegrated further into dozens of smaller chunks and tiny bits of debris and dust.
In 2006, the comet was in at least 70 pieces when it approached Earth.
Here’s what we know
Nasa expects a meteor display on the evening of May 30 going into May 31.
The meteor fragments should enter Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 10 miles per hour – which is on the slower side.
Furthermore, the display is expected to be very visible in the Northern Hemisphere as it is occurring on a Moon-less night.
“This is going to be an all-or-nothing event,” Bill Cooke, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a report.
“If the debris from SW3 was traveling more than 220 miles per hour when it separated from the comet, we might see a nice meteor shower.”
How to watch the meteor shower
A consensus of experts predicts that the shower will be visible starting from 1 a.m. Eastern Time on May 31 (or 10 p.m. Pacific Time on May 30).
To increase your chances of watching the celestial event, you’ll want to be outside at least an hour before this so your eyes have a chance to adjust to the dark.
“The southwestern USA and Mexico are favored locations as the radiant, the area of the sky where these meteors come from, will be located highest in a dark sky,” Robert Lunsford writes for AMS.
“The outburst may be seen from southeastern Canada and the remainder of the (eastern) USA, but at a lower altitude.”
As with any meteor shower, there is no guarantee you’ll definitely be able to spot it as sometimes it just comes down to the luck of being in the right place at the right time.
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