Y aura-t-il une tempête d'étoiles filantes le 31 mai ? Image composite des Géminides, grande pluie d'étoiles filantes, active en décembre. © Craig Taylor Photo, Adobe Stock

An extraordinary star storm may occur tonight!

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Where did they come from? How many are they? Its name comes from the Greek word komêtês which means “hairy”. In Japan, they are called “star brooms”. Lots of names that refer to their faces are very different from the stars that shine in the sky. Get to know them in the video!

There is rainshooting stars Every month, more or less intensity. Undoubtedly the most famous PerseidsActive every summer during the holiday period, it pleases many of its watchers during its peak on August 12-13 by about a hundred meteorites per hour on average (with peaks at 120 or 140). less famous, Gemini, in December, is also very generous. As for those announced on May 31, called tau Herculides (τ-Herculides), and usually not very active, this year they may outperform all other meteorites by an hourly rate of 1,000. More so, if the predictions come true. No more talking about it rain shooting starBut Storm Shooting stars!

How do we explain this sudden storm of a shooting star?

However, it is wise to talk about it in subjunctive. Predictions are based on two studies Solid From researchers whose models agree that in 2022, the Earth will encounter in its orbit several streams of debris collecting on it Comet 73P / Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (The comet 73P, for short) on its heels after their 1995 breakup. fools Which magnifies the scene.

“Our work indicates that the jet ejected during the 1995 pass will encounter Earth on May 31, 2022, with the peak centered at 05:01 UTC (07:01 Paris time), similar to that found by previous studies,” Written by Jeremy Vaubillon of IMCCE.

What exactly is a star? The answer is with Frank Minnant, at Futura in the Stars. © Futura

This comet returns every 5.4 years.orbital) since 1930, when its discoverers expected it to be very cool. They were eventually disappointed, and subsequent observations indicated that the elongated shape of their nuclei was the result of fragmentation. Anyway, that’s what happened in 1995 under eyes Wide open to many telescopes. Hubble And the Spitzer It was later noted, in 2006 and 2007, that Parade of dust and ice debris.

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Animation created from Hubble’s multiple observations of Comet 73P. © NASA

Best time to watch meteor showers

Whatever it is, you’d better be ready, because if there were bursts that would be great: surely the most beautiful meteor showers, by far, of the year until the beginning of this century. ” […] Whatever you do, be prepared for surprises!, Launches Jérémie Vaubaillon. And a bad surprise (eg ZHR is very weak) will anyway teach us something about comets, meteors, meteors and celestial mechanics. solar system. »

Thus, the best time to surprise them, according to forecasts, will be at the end of the night for Western Europe, with possible surprises before (that’s why we must be patient and wait). The situation seems more favorable for the American continent (especially in Baja California, Mexico), where the night will still be deep. especially since the moon He will be absent, thus avoiding the inconvenience of observing these tiny pills that will strike the Most High ambiance floor to small Speed (about 12 km/s). Rather, slow meteors can rain hundreds, and it is not always easy to distinguish them, because they are weak.

The name Herculides tau comes from the name of a star constellation Hercules which is located nearby radiant From’meteor swarm When it was discovered in 1930. This year the luminosity is to be sought in Bouvier, not far from its brightest star Arcturus, with a red and easily detectable glow in the extension of the “Grand Casserole” handle. Good observation, provided that the star rain is abundant!

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Article from Xavier Demersmann Posted on May 7, 2014

Many specialists believe that the night of May 23-24 is likely to be the scene of an extraordinary shower of shooting stars. Debris engulfed by Comet 209P/Linear several decades ago may well be damaged in our atmosphere. However, the least optimistic predicts heavy rain punctuated by the fall of 100 to 400 meteors per hour. A show not to be missed.

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The traditional rain of shooting stars whose sparks are scattered on the balmy evenings around August 12 and 13, from the work of Perseidsfar from being the only meteor event of the year not to be missed: numerous swarms refresh our nights every month, like the last to want From the end of April or countless From Leonids (November) and Geminids (December). Of course, it happens that their activity is less than expected, delayed a few hours, or even favorable for observers located in another part of the world. The opposite can also happen, to the delight of those who were prepared to be admired.

Let us remember that in each case, it is a question in the origin comets who threw a part of GasAnd dust and small grains during their periodic approach to Sun. The flight and abandonment of debris are also uneven and associated with currents of variable intensity. When the Earth happens to cross these swarms, their fall into the atmosphere leads to access to them Fever Meteorites we love to capture so much. Soon, perhaps on the night of May 23-24, we will probably witness an extraordinary storm of falling stars. Why this phenomenon, and what to expect.

International specialists in this matter were the first to mention the possibility of a meteor storm on this date. From 2012, Esko Lyytinen, Peter Jenniskens (NASA) and Jeremy Vaupillon The (Institute of Celestial Mechanics) already realized, after calculations, that the debris streams emitted by small comet 209P/Line between 1803 and 1924 should partially penetrate our atmosphere during the night of May 23-24. These dust will be so small that only the largest grains can be seen. Also, if they are in large numbers as the researchers expected, we could be witnessing a real meteor storm like we haven’t seen in a long time…

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Rain or a meteor storm?

Confirming their calculations, other experts tempered their optimism and prefer to talk about the peak of activity between 100 and 400 meteors per hour. Less than 1000 meteors per hour to speak of a storm, the calculated summit is still enormous compared to the shining Perseids, which usually amaze us at a rate of 100 to 150 meteors per hour, depending on the year. After all, everyone warns that the activity is still difficult to predict, because the veins of this comet’s debris were discovered only in 2004 thanks to the program. linear still not understood. Small (its nucleus size is estimated between 0.8 and 1 km) and difficult to observe, its orbital period is only five years. On May 6, the hairy star, decorated with a tail of gas and dust, will reach its lowest distance from the Sun, or rock bottom, which is 145 million kilometers (or 0.9 AU, a distance roughly equal to the distance from our star). On May 29, it will be just 8.2 million kilometers, or 0.0554 AU, from Earth.

If its activity is confirmed, the swarm must be radioactive for giraffe (Camelopardalis), a small and delicate constellation near the north celestial pole, squeezed between Cassiopeia and the big bear. This circumpolar mode is very useful for monitorsNorthern Hemisphere Visibility all night long. Moreover, the moon will not be any obstacle, because the beautiful crescent, in jointly with sparkle VenusHe won’t get up before 4:30 in the morning. In order to improve meditation, all that remains is to find a clear location and relatively avoid it light pollution Conquer our cities, feel comfortable and then wait and prepare. Of course, the suspense will remain until this evening of the peak activity of the Camélopardalides. Good watch!

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