Meteor showers to flash across Arizona skies before end of May
Meteor showers come and go and some are strong and some are weak.
Here is a special Dr. Sky alert for a possible meteor storm, well worth your time to look for.
You have all heard of the annual Perseid and Geminid meteor showers, just to name a few and these can produce a nice show in our Arizona skies.
There could be a decent shower or “storm” of meteors from the periodic comet known as Comet 73P / Schwassmann- Wachmann, discovered back in 1930.
This is a small comet which has an orbital period of 5.4 years and has been a regular comet in a stable orbit around the sun.
Changes occurred in the comet’s nucleus back in 1995 as the comet appeared to start to disintegrate right before the eyes of astronomers.
The comet ejected a few large chunks of material then known as 73P-A, 73P-B, 73P-C, 73P-D and a few others.
The details on this comet are listed here.
The video of the comet breakup.
The alert that I am presenting here is not a guarantee of seeing anything, but there is a good chance for a rare outburst of meteors from this comet on the evening of May 30 here in Arizona and the next morning for locations in the mid- to eastern parts of the nation.
The remnants of Comet 73P are a meteor shower known as the Tau Herculids and they have produced few meteors over the years.
The details on this shower are listed here.
This year may be very different indeed as particles from the comet ejected back in 1995 may be making there way to a great sky show of meteor dust and particles.
Here is a news story on what may be occurring.
Here is a chart to help you locate the region in the sky to look for any activity on the night of May 30, just after sunset.
In addition to the 1995 release of particles, the past events of 1892 and 1897, may help to increase any “storm” activity from Comet 73P.
My advice would be to set up your observation session at sunset on May 30, look high in the northeastern sky for the bright star Arcturus.
The potential peak may come at 10 p.m. Arizona time, but this could be off by hours.
There will be no moonlight on the night of the 30th, so find a dark and clear sky and have a pair of binoculars ready to observe what may be a grand event or anything at all.
Over the years, there have been some amazing meteor storms and many were spectacular.
Here is a link to one of those.
Final tip: here is a great opportunity to plan a night out with friends and family at the start of the summer vacation season and with a dark sky, a nice lounge chair and few beverages, you just might be a part of meteor shower history!
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
Podcasts are available here.