Memorial Day’s Tau Hercules meteor shower could turn meteor storm late Monday night, early Tuesday

Memorial Day’s Tau Hercules meteor shower could turn into a major meteor storm late Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

Though it’s considered one of the least reliable shows to appear each year during the same general time, experts believe the Tau Hercules shower could become a meteor storm, with the ability to produce as many as 1,000 meteors per hour.

The head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cooke, said this shower will be all or nothing, and how visible the shower will depend on the comet’s speed.

“Being so faint, SW3 wasn’t seen again until the late 1970s,” Cooke said, “seeming pretty normal until 1995, when astronomers realized the comet had become about 600 times brighter and went from a faint smudge to being visible with the naked eye during its passage.”

Cooke continued saying astronomers realized SW3 shattered into several pieces, having littered its orbital trail with debris.

“By the time it passed our way again in 2006,” Cooke said, “it was in nearly 70 pieces, and has continued to fragment further since then. 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.”

According to NASA, binoculars nor telescopes will be needed to view this meteor storm, if the speed of the debris meets the necessary requirements.

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