Tech UPTechnologyThe 'mother' of all meteor showers could fall this...

The 'mother' of all meteor showers could fall this week


Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, also known as SW3, is responsible for the dust fragments caused by the Tau Herculids meteor shower. The comet broke up into large fragments in 1995 and has continued to break up further ever since.

NASA announced that this week we could expect the ‘most powerful meteor storm in generations’, although the space agency is not sure if the debris will reach us this year. It can be or “all or nothing”. Or that a spectacle without equal takes place, or that it is a mirage. It all depends on us passing through the thickest part of the comet fragment that is creating the debris, in which case the night skies will be filled with shooting stars. Also, since there is a new moon and the radiant, or the apparent direction from which the meteor shower is departing, is high in the constellation of Hercules in the northern sky, there will be very little natural light pollution to deal with when shooting. look for shooting stars


nothing is guaranteed

If the comet that spawned the storm has debris traveling faster than 200 mph, “then nothing will hit Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,” said Bill Cooke, who heads the meteor environment office at the NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Studies carried out by teams of meteor experts suggest that the peak of the shower will arrive in the early hours of May 31, at a unique moment for astronomy. Given the possible and historic event, the Fireball and Meteorite Research Network (SPMN) has prepared a follow-up campaign for May 30-31, encouraging all those astronomy fans who have photographic and video cameras to participate. The phenomenon should be visible from North and South America. The rest of us can see it online.

If you can’t see any shooting stars or you can’t see them because of your geographical location, don’t worry, as there are many other meteor showers every year. An appointment that you should not miss is that of the Perseids, which reach their peak in mid-August.

comet details

73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 orbits the sun every 5.4 years . It is not an intrinsically bright comet, but it is an exceptionally interesting one. In 1995, astronomers watched as this comet began to fracture and litter its orbit with an increasing amount of debris. The star pattern associated with Tau Herculids is the constellation of Hercules, the fifth largest constellation in the sky, and the rain appears to radiate from a point about ten degrees from the star Arcturus.

Since it was first detected in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann, it grew very faint over time, but in 1995 it unexpectedly became nearly 400 times brighter and was even visible to the naked eye.

Comets like this one are made of ice, water vapor, dust, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and other gases, materials that date back to the time when the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago .

“It’s a perfect opportunity for space enthusiasts to get out there and experience one of nature’s most vivid light shows, ” Cooke concludes.

Reference: NASA

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