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Tau Herculids Peak Tonight, That Could Possibly Bring A Meteor Storm…




Possible Meteor Storm Tonight: Tau Herculids Peak Tonight,
That Could Possibly Bring A Meteor Storm…


A never-before-seen meteor shower may light up the skies with untold numbers of brilliant streaks the evening of Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Or the event could fizzle out and be a dud.

Those are the best predictions that meteor watchers have for the Tau Herculids, a potential celestial spectacle that has sky-watching enthusiasts eager with anticipation.

Meteor showers can happen when the Earth plows into debris produced by a comet (or, occasionally, asteroids). The source of the Tau Herculids is Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, or SW3 for short. Discovered in 1930, the trifling ice ball originally clocked in at about two-thirds of a mile in diameter, so it rarely produced enough material to generate major nighttime fireworks. But in 1995, SW3 crumbled, producing a large fragment field that our planet is about to encounter.

When and where can I see the potential shower?
If the Tau Herculids happen, they will be most visible throughout the lower 48 United States on the evening of Monday, May 30, and the early morning of Tuesday, May 31, likely around 1 a.m. Eastern time. The further south you live, the better your view. Skywatchers in West Africa, the Caribbean and South America are also favored to see some action. Those in high latitude places like Alaska are out of luck.

To catch the shower, get away from bright city lights and find the darkest and clearest location you can, one with few hills or other obstacles on the horizon. The moon will be new, so its light will not interfere with the display. Allow about half an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

“The best piece of equipment is to go to your attic and haul out that beach chair,” said Joe Rao, an associate astronomer at the Hayden Planetarium in New York. “Then just lay back and look up.”

The Tau Herculids will actually originate from the constellation Boötes, radiating from just above the star Arcturus, a ruddy orange-yellow entity that will be the brightest star in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere at that time. Locating Arcturus is easy if you can find the Big Dipper: Simply trace a line from the last two stars in the Dipper’s handle in a direction away from its bowl. The first bright star you see should be Arcturus.

Unlike meteor showers that are visible for days before and after a peak night, this show will not last long, if it occurs at all.
“This is not a long-term event,” said Robert Lunsford, the secretary-general of the International Meteor Organization. “I would certainly try to be is around midnight, because if nothing’s happening then, then it’s a nonevent

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