A new meteor shower, called May Camelopardalis, is expected to peak in the early morning hours on Saturday, May 24, with some forecasters predicting more than 200 meteors per hour. The shower happens as Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, which makes a full orbit of the sun every five years. Credit: NASA
In 2012, meteor expert Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center was one of the first to announce that Earth was due for an encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. In the early morning hours of Saturday May 24th 2014, Earth will be sandblasted with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, producing a meteor shower that has never been seen before.
Other meteor experts quickly confirmed this prediction. The most recent calculations indicate we might get a strong shower, but perhaps not a storm of meteors. Because this is a new meteor shower, we’re not sure exactly what to expect. Surprises are possible. As with all meteor showers, the only way to know for sure is to go outside on the night of the predicted peak and see for yourself.
The meteors will radiate from the constellation Camelopardalis (camelopard), a very obscure northern constellation in the northern sky, close to the north celestial pole. This meteor shower better will be better viewed from the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere. The best viewing will be between 11pm to 1 am PDT.
What exactly is a meteor shower anyway? As comet dust enters Earth’s atmosphere, the resistance of the air on the space rocks, called meteoroids, makes it extremely hot. A moving streak, or “shooting star” is caused by glowing hot air as the meteoroid flies through the atmosphere. When Earth encounters many meteoroids at once, it’s called a meteor shower.
Where to Watch
The peak night of the shower is predicted for May 24, 2014. Skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. are especially well positioned to see the meteors on the night of May 24, 2014. SETI has a global meteor shower FLUXTIMATOR, which estimates the shower’s hourly meteor count on the night of May 23-24, 2014 from your location (simply select your location from the drop-down menu options to find the best time to watch the starry sky for shooting stars).
If you can’t step outside or weather conditions are poor, the YouTube video below will show a live broadcast of the shower, accompanied by commentary from meteor experts. The broadcast will begin at 11 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 23.
For more information visit: meteor.seti.org/
Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: Peter Jenniskens/NASA/SETI