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05/26/2022 – Ephemeris – There may be a spectacular meteor storm Tuesday am or nothing!

May 26, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, May 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 9:16, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:03. The Moon, halfway from last quarter to new, will rise at 4:42 tomorrow morning.

Early risers tomorrow morning should be able to see, if it’s clear, the planet Venus just above and right of the waning crescent Moon. The last of the visible Moon-planet encounters this month. Another event this month may be the Tau Herculid meteor shower. This may be a spectacular meteor shower, or nothing. It would be the result of the breakup of Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 that started back in 1995. SW3, as it’s known for short, has a 5.44 year orbit of the Sun, so we only get a good look at it about every 11 years currently. As the nucleus breaks up, the debris field widens, with time. The comet will pass close to the orbit of the Earth in a few months. The comet’s orbit comes closest to the Earth’s orbit on May 31st. If the debris cloud has widened enough by now, the Earth should intercept it around 1 am our time that morning.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Position of the Tau Herculid radiant at 1 am May 31, 2022

Position of the Tau Herculid radiant at 1 am, May 31, 2022. However, meteors will appear all over the sky, but could be traced back to the radiant. These meteors will appear to travel a lot slower than the Perseid meteors of August. The meteor storm, if it occurs, should peak around 1 am. However, there is an uncertainty with the time or if the meteor will show up. Created using Stellarium for the star field and LibreOffice for annotations.

Comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3 Hubble space telescope images from 2006

Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 Hubble Space Telescope images from 2006 showing the breakup of the comet. Credit: NASA.