Comet Wirtanen was discovered in 1948. Although this comet has skirted Earth’s orbit many times, Earth has not run into its debris streams before. However, the year 2012 might show different.
The new shower doesn’t have a name yet but if any meteors do materialize, they might be called “Piscids.” The meteor shower’s radiant is located in the constellation Pisces, according to Maslov’s dynamical models of the debris stream. Maslov also predicts that the meteors will be very slow moving, which should help distinguishing them from the faster Geminids.
Image shows the Flaming Star Nebula, in the constellation Auriga, a meteor streak and the very dim Comet 46/P Wirtanen. Comet 46/P (lower left) is the little green ball of light in front of the faint red gas of the IC405 Flaming Nebula Complex.
Credit: John Chumack, Miami Valley Astronomical Society