Look up NJ! — Once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower expected tonight
In the overnight hours from Monday into Tuesday, Earth will be passing through debris trails from a comet that broke apart back in 1995.
According to NASA, the comet, named 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, was discovered in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann. They observed it orbited the sun every 5.4 years.
It wasn’t seen again until the late 1970s and remained in its normal state, until 1995 when astronomers realized the comet had become nearly 600 times brighter.
NASA describes it as going from looking like a faint smudge to being visible with the naked eye during its passage.
That's when researchers realized 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann shattered into several pieces, littering its own orbital trail with debris.
The Earth is now set to pass through part of the debris later tonight.
Here is the comet, observed in 2006, broken into several fragments:
Astronomers say the brand new meteor shower, called Tau Herculids, should reach peak visibility around 1 am on the East Coast (that's us!) and 10 pm on the West Coast.
The moon is new, which means moonlight won't be there to obscure your view of the meteors.
The debris will strike Earth’s atmosphere very slowly, traveling at just 10 miles per second. According to WESH Orlando, we could witness four meteors per minute.
For visibility, obviously the farther away from light pollution and higher elevation you can get to the better. I, for one, am looking into some tucked away areas in Hunterdon County. Though part of me would love to see what it would be like in the big sky over the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.
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