A new meteor shower is going to happen on Tuesday, December 12th. Scientists are calling it “Lambda-Sculptorids”, and the meteors are coming from the Comet 46P/Wirtanen. The comet was discovered in 1948, and orbits the sun every 5.4 years.
Since meteor showers tend to happen once a year, scientists were very confused why we haven’t noticed them. Upon researching the topic, they discovered that the comet has brought meteors here before. However, the low-velocity entry speed could have prevented the meteor shower from happening.
The Comet 46P/Wirtanen made its closest approach to earth on December 16, 2018, when it passed over 7 million miles from our planet.When this happened, NASA captured the image you see above in the Taurus constellation. Even though it was really close to Earth, NASA states the comet is only barely visible to the unaided eye. Discovered by astronomer Carl A. Wirtanen, the comet belongs to the Jupiter family of Comets.
Scientists say the forecast calls for the Lambda-Sculptorids to happen anytime between 3:00am and 7:30 AM EST. They don’t know how many meteors will happen, since this will be the first time we witness this. However, they believe the meteors will have low entry velocity, and be relatively small. This will prove a challenge for researchers, but scientists don’t usually give up.
To see more information about upcoming meteor showers, you can visit our space calendar. This month, you can also look forward to the Geminids Meteor shower, which can produce up to 150 meteors per hour. It’s one of biggest showers of the year.
Image Source: NASA, ESA, and D. Bodewits (Auburn University) and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)