The tau Herculids meteor shower is set to splash our sky with shooting stars. Fortunately the sky conditions couldn’t be better for Michigan, and that is rare for a sky event. I even look at the cloud forecast across the United States.
Normally we are faced with either thick clouds or a bright full moon here in Michigan. Tonight we have the perfect set-up in our sky to have great viewing of a meteor shower.
Here is the good news on the cloud forecast. We should have clear skies over most of Michigan at viewing time of 1 a.m. tonight.
The numbers on the forecast map represent what percentage of the sky will be covered with clouds. So when you are seeing zero percent, one percent, two percent, you know you don’t have to worry about clouds blocking the possible meteor shower.
There are also large parts of the United States that will have clear skies at 1 a.m. tonight.
Much of the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast and the Southwest will have large areas of clear skies.
The second part of the good news on sky conditions rings true for all of us Americans- there will be a new moon. Remember- a new moon means there is no brightly lit moon. In fact, the moon condition couldn’t be any better, with the absolute date of a new moon being tonight.
The meteor shower is called the tau Herculids. You can read more about the details here.
The peak time for the meteor shower is still expected to be right around 1 a.m. eastern tonight. That means the peak time in western U.S. will be around 10 p.m. this evening.
Mike Murray, astronomer at the Delta College Planetarium, says the peak time forecast could be off. He advises we better start looking for the meteors around 10 p.m. in case the peak comes early.
There have been a few meteors from this meteor shower already reported around the world in the past few nights.
NASA thinks the meteors will be faint, but bright enough to see. They also say a few bolide meteors are possible. A bolide meteor has a fiery tail. NASA also seems to be downplaying the possibility of a meteor storm, which would be 200 meteors or more per hour rather than the expected 60 meteors per hour.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to stay up late and watch for the meteor shower. It least we know the sky will allow us to see it when it happens.