How to Watch the (Potential) Tau Herculids Meteor Shower Tonight

How to Watch the (Potential) Tau Herculids Meteor Shower Tonight

Stargazers and space enthusiasts living in the North American region are likely to witness meteor showers, according to NASA.

How to Watch the (Potential) Tau Herculids Meteor Shower Tonight

Named ‘tau Herculid’ shower, it is forecast to peak on the night of May 30 and early morning of May 31. However, it is not a sure thing, the US space agency said.

“This is going to be an all or nothing event,” Bill Cooke, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, shared in a NASA blog post.

Meteor showers are caused by streams of comet and asteroid debris, which create many more flashes and streaks of light as Earth passes through the debris field.

The tau Herculid shower, if it takes place, will be from a comet known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or “SW3, which orbited the Sun every 5.4 years. Discovered in 1930, SW3 wasn’t seen again until the late 1970s, as it was so faint. It was seeming pretty normal until 1995, when astronomers realised the comet had become about 600 times brighter and went from a faint smudge to being visible with the naked eye during its passage.

Further investigation revealed SW3 had shattered into several pieces, littering its own orbital trail with debris.

In 2006, it was in nearly 70 pieces, and has continued to fragment further since then.

If it makes it to Earth this year, the debris from SW3 will strike Earth’s atmosphere very slowly, travelling at just 10 miles per second — which means much fainter meteors.

“If the debris from SW3 was travelling more than 220 miles per hour when it separated from the comet, we might see a nice meteor shower,” Cooke said.

“If the debris had slower ejection speeds, then nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,” he added.

Most particles are no bigger than dust and sand. Hitting the upper atmosphere at speeds up to 45 miles per second, they flare and burn up. On any given night, the average person can see from 4 to 8 meteors per hour.

“Meteors aren’t uncommon,” Cooke said, adding, “Earth is bombarded every day by millions of bits of interplanetary detritus speeding through our solar system.”

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

May 30 has become a special reminder in the to-do-list of most astronomy enthusiasts as the sky is set to be lit with an unforgettable meteor outburst predicted by NASA. The Tau Herculid meteor shower may lead you to see over a thousand meteors per hour bursting into a moonless sky.

How to Watch the (Potential) Tau Herculids Meteor Shower Tonight

Let’s get to know what in the sky for all the night gazers this week

May 30: Tau Herculid Meteor Shower

One of the most spectacular meteor shower ever seen is yet to hit the night sky today and will continue to be there until tomorrow. According to astronomers, the Tau Herculid meteor shower might cause an outburst of around 1,400 to 100,000 meteors. This will happen as Earth goes through debris left by the Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, which broke apart in 1995.

Notably, these are mere speculations as some scientists are predicting faint meteors too.

May 31: Reappearing crescent Moon

Right after you spot the Tau Herculid meteor shower, May 31 will bring the reappearance of a super-slim crescent Moon. A closer look at the western sky might help you spot the delicate two per cent glimmer in the crescent Moon.

June 1: More lit crescent Moon

On June 1, you may be able to spot the crescent Moon more easily as it will light up six per cent. If you bring out your binoculars, you might be able to see ‘Earthshine’, which is the light reflect by the Earth on the Moon.

June 2: Binocular free ‘Earthshine’ and a crescent moon

The moon might want to know you a little better this day as a 10 percent-lit crescent moon will be visible. You can also see the ‘Earthshine’ without any visual aid on June 2.

June 3: Beehive Cluster

Besides seeing a 17 per cent-lit crescent Moon, you can spot the Beehive Cluster in the constellation of Cancer with the help of binoculars.

June 4: Bye-bye binoculars, see five naked-eye planets

If you manage getting up before sunrise on June 4, look up to the southeastern horizon and you’ll see all five planets with naked eye. Interestingly, the planets will be in the order of their distance from the sun.

On June 5, you’ll be able to see a 35 per cent-lit crescent Moon quite close to the Regulus in the constellation of Leo.

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