Update on the Potential May 31st tau Herculid Meteor Storm
If skies are clear, be sure to watch for a potential tau Herculid meteor outburst early next Tuesday morning. With a little cosmic luck, we could potentially be in for a meteor storm of epic proportions this coming Monday night/Tuesday morning. The source of the shower is short period Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. What’s really getting meteor shower scientists excited is Earth’s 2022 encounter with the comet’s 1995 fragmentation stream. As of writing this, the American Meteor Shower (AMS) has refined the key encounter time to 4:45-5:17 Universal Time (UT) / 12:45-1:17 AM U.
If we get a 10-fold increase from the tau Herculids we might see a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of ~140 meteors per hour—similar to the annual Geminids or Perseids. Usually, a ZHR of 1,000 or greater is considered the informal cutoff for a meteor storm, versus a paltry meteor shower. In recent years, we saw the 2012 Giacobinids (Draconids) flirt with storm levels, with a ZHR of over ~900 per hour. The good news is, you don’t need any special equipment to watch a meteor storm: just clear skies and patience. You can even hear meteors ping over a radio tuned to a vacant frequency on the FM dial.
As of writing this, cloud cover prospects for the contiguous United States look to be mostly favorable. Imaging a meteor storm is as simple as setting up a tripod-mounted DSLR camera with a wide-field lens, setting the focus and priority to Manual/Bulb settings, then taking a few quick test shots to get the ISO/exposure/f-stop settings right for the sky conditions and seeing what turns up. Also, be sure to count meteors and report what you see to the International Meteor Organization (IMO).
Read full article at Universe Today