In just about a week’s time, Earth will be greeted by one of the brightest meteor showers in years, according to NASA. Find out details about this meteor shower and when you can expect to see it.
Earth has been presented with an opportunity to witness one of the most beautiful occurrences in the night sky in just a week’s time. According to NASA, some of us will get to witness one of the brightest and most intense meteor showers in years. It is named Tau Herculids. Some scientists are even claiming that this event might be as intense as the Leonid meteor shower witnessed 20 years ago. And interestingly, this potentially spectacular meteor shower is courtesy a fragmenting comet which used to be a faint spot only observed through a telescope. Read on to learn about the fascinating journey of this comet into this brilliant meteor shower and know when we might get to witness it. Also read: Asteroid much bigger even than the humongous Burj Khalifa hurtling towards Earth
A little comet turns into 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 every 5.4 years and made several close flyby’s to the Earth but was 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 the SW 3 and found that it was shining 6.5 magnitudes brighter than normal, highlighting a nearly 400 times increase in its brightness! When observed closely, it was revealed that the meteor had fragmented into 4 pieces.
As the comet broke apart, the released gasses emitted a glow that was spectacular to watch. But it was not the end of the story for the comet previously known as SW 3. Over the years, it kept breaking into more fragments and at present, it is expected to be divided into as many as 70 smaller pieces. Now, according to NASA, this will be the first time since 1995 that this comet and Earth will be coming so close to each other. And that makes this potential meteor shower both exciting and mysterious. Also read: NASA Voyager 1 space probe sends data to Earth that shocks scientists
When will the meteor shower be visible
The Tau Herculids meteor shower is expected to pass the Earth around 5:00 GMT (10:30 AM IST) on Tuesday, May 31. The meteor shower will be visible across large parts of the USA, Canada, Mexico and central South America as well as a part of West Africa will get to witness the meteor shower. Sadly, as it will be daytime in India when that happens, people in the country will miss out on the meteor shower. However, they can easily look up various live streams to watch the meteor shower from inside their home.