The universe is a gift that keeps on giving and next week, we could be in for quite the surprise! Come May 30th, junior astronomers and casual space enthusiasts are encouraged to look up for the chance to see an incredible display known as the Tau Herculid meteor shower – with a little bit of luck. 

While similar events come around annually and are easy to pinpoint, the Tau Herculid will instead have viewers on the edge of their seats – and here’s why.

This particular show could be the first of its kind since it was discovered that a comet known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (documented in its entirety 92 years ago) had recently broken into millions of pieces.


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Despite looking like “shooting stars”, it’s actually the pebble-sized fractures left by a disintegrating comet that we see during a meteor shower – and scientists think that this month, the Earth will pass through the debris left by SW-3.

“This is going to be an all-or-nothing event,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said on their website. 

“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. If the debris had slower ejection speeds, then nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet.”


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If of course, everything lines up and it does happen – these tiny flaming shards will be visible to the naked eye at a rate of up to 1,000 per hour around 11 pm MST on Monday – but don’t hold your breath!

Either we’ll see a spectacular two-hour show… or the same stars as always, depending on the weather.

If you’re interested in watching out for the Tau Herculid Meteor Shower, please remember to dress warm, bring snacks and do so as far away from light pollution as possible.

You never know what the Milky Way has in store for us!