BIG COUNTRY, TEXAS (BigCountryHomepage.com) – Stargazers across the Big Country could be treated to a new meteor shower to end the month of May.
This meteor shower, called Tau Herculid, is forecast to peak late Memorial Day night and into early Tuesday morning. However, experts ask skywatchers to channel their inner scientists and watch for the facts. Nasa said some astronomers believe the display of Tau Herculids could be ‘hit or miss,’ due to astronomical circumstances.
Meteor showers occur as Earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid. Certain meteor showers occur regularly, happening around the same time of the year, or at regular intervals. This is caused by the orbits of Earth and the comets that produce debris.
May 30 into the early morning hours of May 31, Earth will pass through the debris of a comet called 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, also called SW3. This comet originally broke into fragments, causing debris, in 1995.
If these fragments were ejected with a fast enough speed, we might get a meteor shower late Monday night. There is evidence that supports the fragments moving quickly enough. Observations from Spitzer, one of four telescopes in NASA’s Great Observatories program, in 2009 indicate that at least a handful of the fragments are moving fast enough.
If we get lucky enough to see a meteor shower, the Tau Herculid will be moving slower than normal meteor standards. This means that they will be faint in the sky. According to Space Weather Archive the shower could display anything from as many as 1000 or more meteors per hour, or as little as nothing at all.
While scientists cannot be completely certain what will be seen across the sky Monday, we hope it will be an exciting end to Memorial Day in the Big Country.