meteors

We don’t get to see that many new meteor showers, but a new one will peak tonight (May 23, 2014) and those of us in the United States and Canada have the most favored viewing locations for this event.

A new meteor shower means there is no guarantees of good sightings. The experts are saying this one should have a high rate of  about 100–400 meteors per hour, which is much higher than normal showers.

The parent comet for this new shower has the boring name of 209P/LINEAR. It was discovered in 2004. The name of the meteor shower is the equally boring Camelopardalids. These scientists need some work on marketing.  The Camel shower?

The meteor not a big one – about 600 meters (2,000 feet)  in diameter. Many comets are dozens of kilometers across.  The meteor’s journey around the Sun takes five years. The orbital path passes it pretty close to Earth – about 8.3 million kilometers (about 5 million miles). No collisions, but close is astronomical terms.

The shower will appear to be coming from the part of the sky near the north pole, giving the impression that the debris is raining down all over the sky.  During the overnight – perhaps peaking at about 07:20 UTC (03:20 a.m. EDT, May 23-24) – we should see some trails in the sky.

Something that astronomers have noticed make this event possibly more spectacular. This meteor seems to have a low production rate of dust shed as it travels, but the particles are larger. That could/should mean a brighter show as they burn up in our air. Big fireworks versus small fireworks. I hope so.

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