HOUSTON – A broken comet may dazzle the Earth’s skies Monday night and early morning Tuesday, according to NASA’s forecast.
The Tau Herculid shower is from the comet SW3, also known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, which was discovered in the 1930s by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann.
In 1995, astronomers realized the comet had become 600 times brighter, discovering that it had shattered into several pieces, littering its own orbital trail with debris, according to NASA. If the debris makes it to Earth’s atmosphere, stargazers will have a chance to see the Tau Herculid light up the night sky at the forecast peak time, 10 p.m. on the West Coast and 1 a.m. on the East Coast, which means midnight locally in Houston.
Even better, the Moon is new, so there will be no moonlight to wash out the faint meteors, according to NASA. It has the chance to be as amazing as the 1966 Leonids, where people in dark places saw 40 meteors a second and could seemingly feel the Earth move through space.
However, there is no guarantee of the display, even if the sky is clear and dark, and could become nothing because it’s a new shower and untested.
According to CNN, each year, there are around 30 meteor showers, which occur when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid, that are visible to the naked eye.