Meteor shower on Remembrance Day: Tau Herculid rain on Monday could blind the night sky

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The Earth is expected to pass through the wreckage of a wrecked comet on Monday night and early Tuesday morning. This could lead to a new meteor shower.

Night sky observers in North America have a better chance of seeing the thick rain of Hercules, and NASA recommends about 1 a.m. on the East Coast or 10 p.m. on the West Coast as the best time to look up. The moon is new, so there will be no moonlight to obscure the meteors.

However, there is no guarantee of dazzling reflection, even if the sky is clear and dark, stressed NASA. It could end in nothing.

The comet, officially known as 73P / Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3, was discovered in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann. Again, it was not noticed until the late 1970s, and in the 1990s the comet shattered into several pieces, NASA said.

By the time SW3 passed Earth again in 2006, it was nearly 70 pieces, and has since continued to fragment, the statement said.

NASA has said that observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope, published in 2009, show that some fragments are moving fast enough to be seen, which fascinates space scientists.

Each year, there are about 30 meteor showers that occur when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid that is visible to the naked eye.

Some meteor showers have existed for centuries. For example, the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs every year in August, was first observed about 2,000 years ago and recorded by Chinese astronomers, according to NASA. New meteor showers such as this one, when they materialize, are relatively rare.

All or Nothing Event

Debris from SW3 will hit the Earth’s atmosphere more slowly than other meteor showers, and that’s the rate at which debris enters, not the size of debris that causes rain.

Even if they are visible, it means that the meteors will be much weaker, for example, than the meteors eta Aquariids earlier this month.

“It will be an event or nothing. If the wreckage of the SW3 had traveled more than 220 miles per hour, if separated from the comet, we could have seen a pleasant meteor shower. there will be no meteors for this comet, “said Bill Cook, who heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Department at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Meteor showers are usually named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate into the night sky, although Robert Lunsford, secretary general of the International Meteor Organization, said the Tau Herculids were named incorrectly. He said they would radiate from a constellation known as Butis, northwest of a brilliant orange star known as Arcturus (Alpha Butis).

“It is expected that the radiant will have a large area of ​​the sky, not an exact point. So we can expect that any slow meteor from this common area of ​​the sky will be from SW3,” Lunsford said in a blog post.

“You don’t need to look right over your head, because meteors can appear in any part of the sky. In fact, they are more likely to appear at lower altitudes, because at these altitudes you can look through a much thicker piece of atmosphere, which if you look straight. ” up. “

More meteor showers

If the rain melted Hercules will be unpleasant, do not be afraid, this year there are several other opportunities to witness meteor showers.

Delta aquariums are best seen from the southern tropics, peaking between July 28 and 29, when the moon is 74% full.

Interestingly, the same night is the peak of another meteor shower – Alpha Capricorn. Although it is much lighter rain, it is known that during its peak it produces several bright fireballs. This will be visible to everyone, no matter which side of the equator they are on.

Perseid’s most popular meteor shower this year will peak on August 11-12 in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Moon will be only 13% full.

Here is the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year, according to the EarthSky meteor shower forecast.

  • November 4-5: Southern Taurids
  • November 11-12: Northern Tauris
  • December 13-14: Geminids

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Meteor shower on Remembrance Day: Tau Herculid rain on Monday could blind the night sky

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