Friday, May 27, 2022

A NEW METEOR SHOWER?

In a few days, on the nights of May 30th and 31st, look up at the sky, as you can witness the appearance of a new meteor shower. In those days the Earth will encounter the orbit of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, better known as SW3. Discovered in 1930, this is a small periodic comet that orbits the Sun every 5.4 years.

The comet attracted the attention of the scientific community when in 1995, following a close passage to the Sun, its nucleus fragmented into several pieces. As a result, the comet increased its brightness 400 times and suddenly became visible to the naked eye. 

During this destruction, the comet must have released a huge amount of debris and dust into space, which brings us back to May 30 and 31.

In those two days the Earth will cross the debris cloud released in 1995 and there is therefore the possibility of a very intense meteor shower!

The radiant of the swarm should be located near the tau star Herculis, not far from the constellation of Bootes (as you can see from this image obtained from Stellarium).

Of course you cannot predict how intense the swarm will be or whether it will actually be there. We do not know how large the dust cloud is, how much it is populated and which trajectory followed the debris following the fragmentation of the cometary nucleus.

In the worst case scenario the debris cloud is not located where it was calculated and therefore there will be no meteor. In the best of cases you could see one of the most intense meteor showers in recent years!

To know that we must wait a few days and stay with your eyes stuck to the sky!

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