Be the First Humans to Watch Tonight's New Meteor Shower

Be the First Humans to Watch Tonight's New Meteor Shower

The Camelopardalid meteor shower will occur for the first time ever tonight, May 23, stretching into the early morning of May 24.

North Americans will have the best view of a new meteor show that will result in up to around 1,000 shooting stars per hour, experts say. Beginning at around 10:30 p.m. EDT and peaking between 2 and 4 a.m., the meteors will originate near the constellation Camelopardalis, near the North Star, but can show up anywhere in the sky.

In the 1800s, comet 209P/LINEAR left a trail of dust in space, but it was only recently that Jupiter's gravity pulled this debris into the Earth's orbit for the first time. Tonight's shower will occur as the Earth passes through this dust trail. As the dust particles hit our atmosphere, they will vaporize and leave bright streaks in the sky. Depending on how much debris was left in space, we could see up to 1,000 or so shooting stars per hour - or potentially much fewer, if little debris remains.

I saw my first meteor shower last summer, and it was spectacular. It was the August Perseid shower, which resulted in meteors whizzing by so fast that I'd have to confirm with my companion whether my bleary eyes were deceiving me. The Camelopardalids will be moving slower than the Perseids, though, and should be easier to spot. If you plan on watching, find a place with a wide, unobstructed view of the sky. If you can lie down either in a lawn chair or on the ground and stare straight up, you'll save yourself some neck strain. Meteors tend to come in groups of two of three that will fall within a matter of seconds before a dry spell of a few minutes.

What meteor showers have you seen? Do you plan on watching the Camelopardalids?

Source: Discovery, The Washington Post

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The 2001 Leonids meteor shower was one of the most amazing events I've ever seen. I was near Brown Mountain, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway far away from any cities. You could actually see where the debris were coming into the atmosphere and splitting apart into separate meteors. 3000+/hr and super bright. They said they could see the shower in New York City that night.

any suggestion as to watch direction us west-coasters should be craning our necks or, is it going to be head-bonkingly obvious?

evilnancyreagan:
any suggestion as to watch direction us west-coasters should be craning our necks or, is it going to be head-bonkingly obvious?

If you can find the North Star, that's roughly where they'll originate, but you should be able to spot them anywhere in the sky. I'm terrible at recognizing stars and/or constellations, though, so I know that advice wouldn't be helpful to me. Based on my experience last year, I'd recommend just staring up, in general, and letting your peripherals catch sight of movement. If the entire sky dome is in your field of vision, you should be able to spot anything moving in the sky. Just try to orient yourself so that you're facing North.

Rhykker:
If you can find the North Star, that's roughly where they'll originate, but you should be able to spot them anywhere in the sky. I'm terrible at recognizing stars and/or constellations, though, so I know that advice wouldn't be helpful to me. Based on my experience last year, I'd recommend just staring up, in general, and letting your peripherals catch sight of movement. If the entire sky dome is in your field of vision, you should be able to spot anything moving in the sky. Just try to orient yourself so that you're facing North.

Even if I had any propensity for astronomy, I still wouldn't be able to distinguish between Polaris and an Airbus A330 as the light pollution outside of LA is simply gawdawful. I'll certainly be sure to keep the gawk-sockets trained northwards, thanks for the tip and happy rock-watching!

Have you people never read "Day of the Triffids"? You're all gonna go blind and get eaten by killer plants, you know

 

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