What’s Up: Possible Meteor Outburst on May 31

May 27, 2022 | Comets, Daily Space, Meteor Showers, Sky Watching

What’s Up: Possible Meteor Outburst on May 31
IMAGE: Apparent radiant of the upcoming tau Herculids potential meteor outburst caused by debris from comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann. CREDIT: American Meteor Society

Here is a little background information on the tau Herculids. 

The meteor shower is what’s left of Comet 79P/SW3, which disintegrated in 1995. SW3 was discovered in 1930 by two German astronomers while they were looking for asteroids. The disintegration made the comet much brighter than it was previously – so bright that it was visible with the unaided eye for a short period of time.

Although the shower is called the tau Herculids, the radiant this year will actually be in Böotes, near the globular cluster M3. The wandering of the radiant is caused by the gravitational pull of Jupiter, which has changed the orbit of the remnants of SW3. Look to the east-southeast for Böotes, which reminds me of Gossamer from Looney Tunes. The radiant is in a direct line between the star Thiba in Böotes, the left shoulder, and chi Herculis, in the constellation Hercules. Both of these stars are bright enough to see with the unaided eye.

The shower will peak in a half-hour window on May 31 starting at 05:04 UTC, or four minutes after midnight Central Time, in the middle of the night from May 30 to the 31st.

More Information

Possible Meteor Outburst on May 30/31? (American Meteor Society)

CBET 5125: tau Her Meteors 2022 (SETI Institute)

VIDEO: Tau Herculids: an outburst in May 2022? – Pierre Martin (RASC)


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