Comet SW3's Spectacular Meteor Shower Tau Herculids May Take Place Next Week: How to Watch It and Other Details - world cultures

Comet SW3’s Spectacular Meteor Shower Tau Herculids May Take Place Next Week: How to Watch It and Other Details


Meteor showers are among the most dazzling events in the universe that we can see in the night sky without the need for equipment such as telescopes or binoculars. A meteorite is a space rock that enters the atmosphere of our planet. When this rock gets close to the ground, the air resistance — or drag resistance — makes it extremely hot and sheds light. However, the bright streak is not actually the rock, but the hot, glowing air around it. Earth regularly plows through dust and debris left by comets and asteroids as they orbit the sun. This debris generates meteor showers.

Most meteor showers are predictable and occur when our planet passes a particular area filled with debris. Skygazers have a chance to see new meteor showers, which are likely to occur next week. Named after the Tau Herculids, this tiny shower is set to fall from the torn apart comet SW3 starting May 30. The star-gazing event is scheduled to reach its climax on May 31. It will be seen throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

Some reports have called it “the most powerful meteor storm in generations,” but astronomers are more careful about naming it that way. Comet SW3 (73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3) was first observed in 1930. In 1995, it became unexpectedly brighter and fragmented, releasing huge amounts of dust, gas, and debris. The comet orbits the Sun every 5.4 years and has made several flights close to Earth, but it was not visible most of these times. Over the years, this comet has increased its fragmentation.

Next week, Earth will cross SW3’s orbit and a detailed trajectory analysis indicates that its debris has been scattered along the comet’s orbit. A report said the pieces of debris are too small for us to say if they’ve spread far enough to meet Earth until we encounter it.

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has assured us that the comet itself will not be anywhere near Earth but debris from the 1995 event may light up our sky with meteors.

Whatever happens, astronomers are watching with interest the occurrence of this event to develop their understanding of comets and how they disintegrate.


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