However, NASA stressed that there is no guarantee of a great view even if the sky is clear and dark. It can come to nothing.
Comet, officially known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3, was discovered in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachman. NASA said it was not observed again until the late 1970s and in the 1990s the comet broke into several pieces.
By the time SW3 passed Earth again in 2006, it was made up of about 70 pieces, and has continued to fragment further since then, the statement said.
NASA said that observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope published in 2009 indicated that some of the fragments were moving fast enough to be visible, intriguing astronomers.
Each year, there are about 30 meteor showers, which occur when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid, which can be seen with the naked eye.
All or nothing happened
Debris from SW3 will hit Earth’s atmosphere more slowly than other meteor showers which is the speed at which the debris hits rather than the volume of debris that causes the shower.
Meteor showers are usually named after the constellation that appears to be shining in the night sky although Robert Lunsford, Secretary-General of the International Meteor Organization, said the Tau Hercules was incorrectly named. It would appear to be radiating from a constellation known as Bootes, he said, northwest of the bright orange star known as Arcturus (alpha Bootis).
“You do not need to look directly at the sky as meteors may appear in any part of the sky. In fact, they are more likely to appear at lower altitudes in the sky since at these altitudes one is looking through a thicker part of the atmosphere when looking directly up” .
More meteor showers
If the tau Herculid shower turns out to be useless, fear not, there are plenty of other opportunities to witness meteor showers this year.
Delta Aquariids are best seen from the southern tropics and will peak between July 28 and 29, when the moon is 74% full.
Interestingly, another meteor shower peaks on the same night – Alpha Capricorn. Although this shower is much weaker, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during its peak. It will be visible to everyone, no matter which side of the equator they are on.
The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will reach its peak between August 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere, when the moon is only 13% full.
- October 8: Draconids
- October 21: Orionids
- November 4-5: South Taurids
- November 11-12: North of Torres
- November 17: Leonids
- December 13-14: Gemini
- December 22: Ursids
Ashley Strickland contributed to this report.
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