AUSTIN (KXAN) — A meteor shower is possible overnight from Memorial Day into Tuesday. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is it: The tau Herculids shower, which is forecast to peak overnight, was first discovered as a comet back in 1930, according to NASA. German observers were the first to see the comet known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (nicknamed “SW3”).
Astronomers later found the comet had become about 600 times brighter and that it had shattered into several pieces. In 2006, NASA reported it was nearly 70 pieces and has continued to break off into more pieces since.
“This is going to be an all-or-nothing event. If the debris from SW3 was traveling more than 220 miles per hour when it separated from the comet, we might see a nice meteor shower. If the debris had slower ejection speeds, then nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,” Bill Cooke said in a release. He leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Timing: KXAN Meteorologist Kristen Currie shared the alert on Twitter, noting the peak time to watch will be midnight our time.
Where to watch: If this shower is visible, it’s likely you’ll be able to see it from Central Texas.
“North American stargazers are taking particular note this year because the tau Herculid radiant will be high in the night sky at the forecast peak time. Even better, the Moon is new, so there will be no moonlight to wash out the faint meteors,” NASA wrote in a blog.
Tips: NASA says the best way to catch a meteor shower is to get as far away from light pollution as possible (sorry downtown Austin dwellers) and find the darkest patch of sky that you can.
They also say to put away the telescope or binoculars because it reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time. It recommends not looking at a specific spot and letting your eyes zone for any movement above.
Also, avoid looking at your cell phone or other light, they impact your ability to view the night sky effectively.