Look up! Meteor outburst may be visible late Monday night, Tuesday morning

The earth passes through the debris field of a comet that began fracturing nearly 30 years ago

Geminid Meteor Shower courtesy NBC.com

ROANOKE, Va. – The Earth will be passing through the debris field of comet SW3 (otherwise known as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann) the night of Memorial Day into Tuesday morning. This comet began fragmenting in 1995, leaving behind a massive trail of icy debris that could light up the night sky with shooting stars.

Experts with the American Meteor Society warn, however, that the debris from this comet is moving in the same direction as the earth. This means that meteors need to be larger than normal to be seen from the ground upon striking the earth’s atmosphere. That doesn’t appear likely in this case.

Regardless, there is a new moon at the end of the month. That limits the amount of light obscuring our view. There’s also good news in that widespread cloud cover is unlikely, due to high pressure being anchored over the Eastern U.S. early next week.

The best times to view are between 12:45 a.m. and 1:17 am. Tuesday, giving us a very narrow window of opportunity to watch. You will need to look low on the horizon.

Possible meteor outburst May 30-31, 2022

Meteorologist Marshall Downing recently wrote about how meteor showers form in our ‘Beyond the Forecast’ newsletter. Sign up for that below!


About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.