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Next week, a "meteor storm" of 1,000 shooting stars per hour may be visible across North America

By: April Carson

Although the Tau Herculids might generate a meteor shower, there's little chance it will occur. The stream of particles is very diffuse, and earth would have to pass through the very center of the stream for there to be any significant meteor activity.

Still, it's worth looking up at the sky next week, just in case. The Tau Herculids are associated with the comet 209P/Linear, and every time that comet passes close to the sun, there's a chance that some of its debris will interact with Earth's atmosphere and produce a meteor shower.

On May 30 and 31, the Tau Herculids meteor shower may light up North America's skies. Alternatively, it may not. If we go through the thickest section of the comet fragment that is producing the debris, the night skies will be filled with shooting stars. But if we just miss the tail of the comet, there will be very few visible meteors.

The shower will be visible for a long time, about half an hour. If it's observed correctly, the shower may result in a "meteor storm" in which Earth passes through an exceptionally thick forest of space debris, producing up to 1,000 meteors per hour, according to The Washington Post. And as a pleasant bonus, the moon will be new and the radiant (apparent direction) of the shower will be positioned high in Hercules in the northern sky. As a result, when looking for shooting stars there should be little or no natural light pollution to worry about.

However, NASA cautions that the sky show is not a guarantee. "If the comet that generated the storm has debris traveling slower than 220 mph (321 km/h), nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet," Bill Cooke, who heads NASA's meteoroid environment office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, stated in a recent agency blog entry.

Meteors are most visible around 2 a.m. local time and will appear in the sky for the longest period if viewed from a great distance away from city lights. Wear comfortable clothes, apply mosquito repellent, and sit back in a lawn chair to view up. The greatest meteor streakers are generally seen far away from the radiant light source.

To see the best show, find a spot away from city lights, sit back in a lawn chair and look up. The meteors will appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini, but they can appear anywhere in the sky. The further away you are from the radiant, the longer the trails of light will be.

A comet, sort of like an icy snowball known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3 for short, serves as the starting point for this shower. The cometary body has been breaking up for a long time and about 70 parts were observed as early as 2006, although NASA suspects there are even more pieces out there.

The debris from SW3 will reach Earth's atmosphere at a very slow speed, traveling at just 10 miles [16 kilometers] per second," NASA said. Slower meteors generally create fainter trails in the sky, but we might be surprised.

"This could be one of the best meteor showers of the decade for North America," Bill Cooke, a meteor expert at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said in a statement. "The new moon will make viewing conditions ideal, and we could see over 1,000 meteors per hour."

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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