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fragments


comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 is a comet in the process of breaking up. Every 16 years we get a glimpse of it’s pieces in our skies.

The fragments are expected to pass the Earth in late April and early May of 2006, coming nearest to the Earth around May 12 at a distance of about 11.9 Gm (7.4 million miles). That is a close pass in astronomical terms (0.08 AU) though nothing to be concerned about. In 1930 when it passed the Earth this close, there were meteor showers with as many as 100 meteors per minute.
In 2022, the comet fragments are expected to pass nearer to the Earth than in 2006. It is currently unknown what their exact trajectory is. Many astronomers will be watching as the fragments pass in 2006 to calculate their various trajectories for future years. If the fragments continue to break up, it may become impossible to track the many fragments since each time a fragment splits, the resulting fragments acquire progressively divergent trajectories.


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