Lambda-Sculptorídeas: A Spectacular New Meteor Shower Set to Illuminate the Southern Skies


After a new meteor shower, the peak is expected to occur next week. On Thursday morning, at about noon, this new meteor shower, which is expected to be named Lambda-Sculptorídeas, will begin.

The new meteor shower has been described in an article available on the preprint server arXiv. According to the report, the event is set to reach its peak next week in the southern hemisphere. The renowned meteorologist, Jeremie Vaubaillon from the Paris Observatory in France, is credited with the discovery.

Based on the study, it is projected that this new meteor shower will come to life next Thursday (12) between 5 and 9.30 in the morning, according to Brasília time. The potential name for the shower is Lambda-Sculptorídeas, as the radiant’s location is close to the star -Sculptoris (Lambda Sculptoris).

However, despite this information coming to light, it is believed that comet 46P/Wirtanen will be considered the main cause of the upcoming meteor shower.

This small comet, with an estimated diameter of 1.2 km and an orbital period of 5.4 years, was first photographed on January 17, 1948, by the American astronomer Carl A. Wirtanen. Due to a limited number of initial observations, it took over a year for the object to be identified as a short-period comet.

Known as Comet 46P/Wirtanen, the National Solar System image was released by NASA in December 2018. On the sixteenth of that month, it passed within a few million kilometers of Earth, which is approximately thirty times the distance to Mercury.

Normally, the comet has to travel a great distance around Earth before it can be seen. However, on its most recent visit, it came close enough to be visible in the present moment. It was the twelfth closest approach of a comet to Earth in the entire modern period and one of the brightest within the last 20 years.

Prior to this event, it was observed in 2007, 2012, and 2017. According to models, Earth was expected to encounter a debris triangle in 2007 and 2018, which could have caused meteor showers, but it was never officially recorded. The astronomers who recorded the discovery on each occasion closely followed the evolution of the phenomenon and are now awaiting a peer review of their results.

On November 17, 2018, one hour before sunrise, a meteor from this shower was photographed in Blauen, Germany. This photo demonstrated that it is possible, although much more difficult, to observe these events during the day.

Due to the slow entry velocity and relatively small sizes of the meteoroids, the discoverers of the new meteor shower note that observations will be challenging. Nevertheless, they encourage meteor enthusiasts to conduct scientific observations and report their findings to the International Meteor Organization (IMO), as stated in the article.

Will the new meteor shower be visible to the naked eye? Astronomer Marcelo Zurita, who presides over the Paraibana Astronomy Association (APA), is a member of the Brazilian Astronomical Society (SAB), the technical director of the Brazilian Meteor Observation Network (BRAMON), and a columnist for Olhar Digital, suggests that visibility will not be optimal in Brazil. This is primarily because the shower is relatively new and not widely understood yet. Additionally, the peak of the shower occurs during the morning hours, with an expected rate of 10 meteors per hour.

This year, Australia has been identified as the best place on Earth to observe this new meteor shower. However, even there, it will not be easy to see the meteors at the beginning of the night on the 12th. The challenge lies in the intensity of the meteors. Zurita warns that these streaks will not generate much light as they are created by small particles and reach Earth at a relatively low speed of around 11 km/s. Nevertheless, it remains a great opportunity for those who take the effort to observe meteors in person.