Comet 3P/Schwassman-Wachmann 3 passes Earth again. Its debris could light up the night sky this Monday.
the essentials in brief
- Comet SW3 and its debris may light up the sky tonight.
- For the spectacle, however, some requirements must be met.
In 1995, astronomers observed the bursting of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 – also called SW3. Approximately every five years, its core passes through the earth again. That’s how it should be again this week. Astronomers may expect a meteor shower.
As the comet passes Earth, it loses mass, which burns up in our atmosphere, lighting up the night sky. Whether that will really happen depends on several factors, as NASA writes.
On the one hand, the comet’s broken debris would have to fly in the right direction to hit Earth. On the other hand, this debris must be fast enough. As soon as they fall below a certain speed, nothing comes of the meteor shower.
The spectacle would take place overnight, i.e. from May 30th to May 31st.
The best chances of a successful shooting star experience are in North America. However, it is likely that the comet will not be visible from Europa.
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