According to NASA, in just about a week, Earth will be greeted by one of the brightest meteor showers of the year. Find out details about this meteor shower and when you can see it.
Earth has been given the opportunity to witness one of the most beautiful phenomena in the night sky in just a week’s time. According to NASA, some of us will be witnessing one of the brightest and most powerful meteor showers in years. It was named Tau Herculids. Some scientists have even claimed that the event could be as intense as the Leonid meteor shower witnessed 20 years ago. And interestingly, this potentially spectacular meteor shower is caused by a fragmented comet that was once a faint spot only observed through telescopes. Keep reading to learn about this comet’s fascinating journey into this dazzling meteor shower and know when we might witness it. Also read: Asteroid much larger than the giant Burj Khalifa is rushing towards Earth
A small comet turns into a spectacular meteor shower
This particular comet, SW 3, was first discovered in 1930 by two German astronomers, Friedrich Carl Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann. The comet orbits the Sun once every 5.4 years and makes several passes close to Earth but is never visible to the naked eye. In fact, the comet was not seen again until 1979. But a few years later, things changed dramatically. In 1995, astronomers observed SW 3 and found that it was 6.5 degrees brighter than usual, increasing its luminosity almost 400 times! Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that the meteorite was fragmented into 4 pieces.
When the comet breaks up, the released gases emit a light that is spectacular to see. But that’s not the end of the story for the comet formerly known as SW 3. Over the years it has continued to break into more pieces, and now it’s predicted to split into 70 smaller pieces. . According to NASA, this will be the first time since 1995 that the comet and Earth have come this close. And that makes this potential meteor shower both interesting and mysterious. Also read: NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe sends data back to Earth, surprising scientists
When can you see the meteor shower?
The Tau Herculids meteor shower is expected to pass by Earth at around 5:00 GMT (10:30 AM IST) on Tuesday, May 31. The meteor shower will be visible over large areas of the United States. Canada, Mexico and central South America as well as parts of West Africa will see meteor showers. Sadly, it will be daytime in India when that happens, the people of the country will miss the meteor shower. However, they can easily look up various live streams to watch the meteor shower from within their homes.