Tau Herculids 2022

A meteor races across the sky
A photo of an especially persistent meteor taken by Ed Sweeney during the 2009 Leonid meteor shower.

The tau herculids meteor shower is ordinarily not a very impressive shower. This year, however, it may go through an outburst that could make it one of the best meteor showers of the year. The parent comet of this meteor shower is comet 73P/Schwassmann–Wachmann. Since 1995, this comet has been falling apart. The comet has by now broken into at least 66 separate pieces. When it broke apart in 1995, it laid down an impressive debris trail. Earth is predicted to crash through this trail on the night of May 30. Astronomers don’t know what this meteor shower will be like. It could be a fairly weak meteor shower as it is most years. But there is a chance that there will be a rare meteor storm. It all depends on how Earth hits the debris trail. A meteor storm occurs when a meteor shower tops a thousand meteors per hour. If you’ve found Arcturus (see directions in the May Astronomy Challenge), look near this star for the meteors. The time to look is between 9:45 and 10:17PM PDT. If you go out, you may see an impressive meteor storm… or no meteors at all. Meteors are always surprising!