We’ve already told you the best time and place to look up and catch the Geminid meteor shower tonight – but NASA is now saying that there could be an added bonus: another never-before-seen shower set to happen at roughly the same time.
Comet Wirtanen, which circles the sun every 5.4 years, has passed by Earth many times – but this year in particular could mark our first encounter with its debris stream.
“Dust from this comet hitting Earth’s atmosphere could produce as many as 30 meteors per hour,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement Tuesday (Dec. 11). “Meteors from the new shower (if any) will be visible in the early evening, with the Geminids making their appearance later on and lasting until dawn,” Cooke added.
Should the shower actually happen, astronomers will likely call it the “Piscids” – since the meteors will tend to radiate from the constellation Pisces.
With the Geminids already predicted (a best case scenario) to throw out between 80-120 per hour and the Piscids potentially contributing another 30 – we could (fingers crossed) have ourselves quite the celestial event tonight.
Put down the television remote and get out there!