200+ meteors per hour possible in Friday's night sky

KUSA - A brand new meteor shower could have you wishing on not one, but hundreds of shooting stars Friday night. NASA says 200 plus meteors per hour could be seen.

They are called the Camelopardalids, and it gets its name from the constellation it radiates from Camelopardalis. Unlike other better known meteor showers like the Perseids or Leonids that have been happening for hundreds of years, we'll see history in the making as the Camelopardalids shoot through the sky for the first time ever.

This will be a special start to Memorial Day weekend as the meteor shower will be the night of Friday, May 23 and early morning of Saturday, May 24. Astronomers predict peak activity for the shower will be from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. MT.

On Friday NASA is hosting a live webchat and UStream from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. to discuss the meteor shower: go.nasa.gov/1maTQHY. Here are some viewing tips from NASA: on.fb.me/1jHBG23.

What we will see is debris from Comet 209/LINEAR, a very dim comet that orbits the sun every five years. When the Earth passes through the debris left in space by the comet, the chunks of rock and material will burn up in the atmosphere to form what people call shooting or falling stars.

This will be the first time the Earth has passed through Comet 209/LINEAR's leftovers. Some astronomers are predicting that all of the debris trails from 1083 through 1924 will intersect Earth's orbit, so the Camelopardalid meteor shower will be a meteor storm producing hundreds of meteors per hour. When compared to other well-known meteor showers, the Camelopardalids could potentially exceed the meteor count.

Clouds are always a factor when star gazing, but a meteor watcher's other nemesis is a bright moon because it can wash out all but the brightest meteors. However, on the night of May 23, the moon is not present, and it doesn't rise until 1:41 a.m. on May 24 when it will be a waning crescent, which won't affect the meteor shower.

Here's another fun Fact about the constellation Camelopardalis. It's referred to as a circumpolar constellation, which means that instead of moving from east to west across the night sky, it goes around the North Star, Polaris, so it's up all night. It should also be easy to find because it is close to two easily recognizable constellations, the Big Dipper and Little Dipper.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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