This year is going to be an exciting one for stargazers and astronomers as a number of meteor showers are lined up for the upcoming months.
With the Earth passing through the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, one will witness the breathtaking Perseid meteor shower. Scheduled to occur in August this year, it is expected to be an exquisite treat for all space enthusiasts.
Our planet will pass through the trail left behind by the comet from July 17 until August 24. The shower will peak on August 12, when the Earth passes through the densest area of the trail. There will be an “outburst” of the Perseids this year, according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. This means that the shower would appear double the usual rate, Cooke said.
“This year, instead of seeing about 80 Perseids per hour, the rate could top 150 and even approach 200 meteors per hour,” Cooke said, as reported by Space.com. This will be the first time since 2009 that such an outburst will occur.
Earth will also be passing through Comet Halley’s orbit twice this year, EarthSky.org notes. Since the comet has circled around the sun on countless occasions, fragments and debris from the comet are scattered all over its orbit. Every time our planet passes through the orbit of Comet Halley, the debris smash into the upper atmosphere and vaporize to form bright streaks across the sky.
The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurred in early May this year. Tampa Bay Review said it “is possibly going to be the brightest meteor shower in 2016.” The shower is expected to occur until May 28, following which our planet will leave the path of the debris.
The shower will occur again six months later, with the Earth passing through the orbit of the comet. The spectacular annual Orionid meteor shower, which will occur in October, will involve the debris left behind by the comet striking the atmosphere and burning up to produce beautiful streaks in the sky.