Meteor Shower

A New Meteor Shower May Be Visible Overhead Monday Night. Here's What it is, and When to Watch

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a new meteor shower could be visible across North America Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

It's called the tau Herculid Shower, and it's forecast to peak at night on Memorial Day. However, NASA calls it an "all or nothing" event.

"If it makes it to us this year, the debris from SW3 will strike Earth’s atmosphere very slowly, traveling at just 10 miles per second – which means much fainter meteors than those belonging to the eta Aquariids," Bill Cooke said, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. "But 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."

The eta Aquarrids shower, which took place earlier in the month, is caused by the annual encounter with debris from Halley's comet.

According to NASA, late Monday night and early Tuesday, the Earth will pass through the debris trails of a broken comet called SW3. The comet, which broke into large fragments back in 1995, won’t reach this point in its orbit until August.

However, if the fragments were ejected at speeds greater than twice the normal speeds—fast enough to reach Earth—a meteor shower might occur.

"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," Cooke said. 

The peak time to watch will be around midnight, Central Standard Time, NASA says.

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