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Watch New Meteor Shower Peak in the Sky and Online

This is composite photo of a meteor shower created from multiple exposures over a course of a night. A similar sight may be in store this week if a new meteor shower performs at its peak. Credit: NASA
This composite photo of a meteor shower created from multiple exposures over the course of a night. A similar sight may be in store this week if a new meteor shower performs at its peak. Courtesy of NASA

Sky-watchers across North America are waiting with great anticipation for the predicted peak of a never-before-seen meteor shower this weekend.

Latest computer models suggest that there may be dozens  if not hundreds of shooting stars per hour at peak time. This sky show has the potential to rival even August’s famed Perseids.

If the most optimistic predictions hold true, then a genuine meteor storm may be in store for sky-watchers, with as many as 200 or more shooting stars per hour flying across our skies at its peak, which will occur in the morning in Europe and very early in North America, on Saturday, May 24.

The new shower, dubbed the May Camelopardalids, is a result of dust shed from the faint periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. The comet regularly crosses Earth’s orbit as it rounds the sun every five years.

illustration shows comet 209P/LINEAR orbit and its current location - about 11 million km from Earth. Credit: SkySafari
This illustration shows comet 209P/LINEAR’s orbit and its current location, about 11 million kilometers from Earth. Courtesy of SkySafari

The coming shower’s parent comet was discovered in February 2004 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research Project. Meteor experts predicted three years ago that the particles ejected by the comet back in the 1800s may await Earth as it circles the sun.

By calculating the movements of the comet’s particle cloud, scientists have been able to determine that Earth should cross this historic debris stream on May 24.

This illustration shows Earth's predicted path through the densest part of the comet debris cloud. Credit: QuanZhi/NASA
This illustration shows Earth’s predicted path through the densest part of the comet debris cloud. Courtesy of  QuanZhi/NASA

Many researchers looking at the data are a bit skeptical, however, on how well the shower will perform. Some believe that it’s hard to tell exactly how much debris Earth will be encountering. They say that the strength of the meteor shower really depends on how active the comet was centuries ago when it deposited the dust.

“We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s,” explained William Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, in a NASA video. “As a result of this uncertainty, this could be a great meteor shower or a complete dud.

“Will this new shower pan out? No one can say for sure, but the only way to know is to head outside and look up.”

Where and When to Look

As with other established showers, the new meteors are named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate—the faint northern constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe, in this case. It resides near the North Star.

To find the constellation, face north in the early morning hours before dawn and look for the Big Dipper in the sky. The giraffe constellation is located to its far right and is about 30 degrees below Polaris, the North Star. That’s about equal to the width of three fists held at arm’s length and stacked on top of each other.

This skychart shows the constellation Camelopardis - the radiant of the new meteor shower as seen in the northern hemisphere in the predawn hours of May 24, 2014. Credit: SkySafari.A.Fazekas
This sky chart shows the constellation Camelopardis, the radiant of the new meteor shower as seen in the Northern Hemisphere in the predawn hours of May 24, 2014. Credit: SkySafari/A. Fazekas

The absolute peak of the shower—when Earth is predicted to make its way through the thickest part of the debris stream—is expected to arrive between 6 and 8 a.m. Universal Time, or 2 to 4 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on May 24.

North Americans are favored for the sky show because the peak time occurs during the darkest hours of nighttime, when the radiant is at its highest point in the sky. Look downstream of the radiant to catch sight of the meteors.

World map showing regions where meteor shower will be visible on May 24, 2014. Credit: NASA
World map showing regions where meteor shower will be visible on May 24, 2014. Credit: NASA

Since this is a new shower, predictions may be off by a few hours—and surprises may be in store. So the best bet is to plan on staying up overnight. Start brewing some hot chocolate and get those blankets ready. It’s going to be a long night!

And if you get clouded out then check out the shower through a live webcast thanks to a network of all-sky cameras set up by NASA and web-baed astronomy outreach comapny, Slooh.

Slooh will broadcast the comet event from its telescopes located off the west coast of Africa, at the Institute of Astrophyiscs of the Canary Islands, on May 23rd starting at 3 PM PDT / 6 PM EDT / 22 UTC – International Times – and then will follow up with live coverage of the new meteor shower starting at 8 PM PDT/ 11 PM EDT/ 03 UTC (5/24) – International Times.

Viewers can ask questions during the comet show by using hashtag #slooh.

Comet Broadcast: Starts 6 pm EDT

 

Meteor shower broadcast: starts 11 pm EDT

 

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on TwitterFacebook, and his website.

 

Comments

  1. Gail Robinson
    North Carolina
    May 24, 2:42 pm

    From 2:30 to 4:20 my husband saw one, I counted 3. Not many but still enjoyable. Great show of the night sky.

  2. Selena
    East Coast, USA
    May 24, 1:46 pm

    Actually the “3d orbit” explanation for getting this meteor shower once is BS and I wonder where he got that rubbish. Ed, your question was valid and your response more so. Nice :)
    The Camelopardalids was a “gift from Jupiter”. Normally the trail from comet 209P/LINEAR is not close enough for us to swing through. But because of the orbit of Jupiter and it’s gravitational tug, the debris field was pulled into our path. It probably won’t happen again. Even though it wasn’t what was predicted and hoped for, I witnessed around 40 meteors and was not disappointed. Hope others were as lucky!

  3. Bill Edmonds-Bayliss
    Elliot Lake Ontario
    May 24, 1:43 pm

    Well perfect clear skies. Only saw a few fizzlers. If you blinked you would of missed them, although about 3AM one large one shot right across the Big Dipper and that’s when I packed it in. Too much hype.

  4. Dwayne LaGrou
    Lapeer, Michigan
    May 24, 10:40 am

    Well, I stayed up until about 4:30am and only saw about twelve! I would say that this was a minor meteor shower.
    I did see about 30 to 40 Satelites orbiting the Earth though. And some of them were tumbling! I could tell they were tumbling from the reflection from the sun. It would get very bright and then get very dim, Over and over. Most of them were on a north to south orientation. VERY COOL !!!

  5. Niklas Chappell
    northern lower peninsula of Michigan
    May 24, 5:18 am

    Wife and I went to view it from 3:00 A.M. – 4:00 over Grand Traverse Bay and did not see anything but lots of stars. Meteor shower here a dud!! …..disappointed …….

  6. malachai
    May 24, 3:17 am

    someone resond!!!

  7. malachai
    florida
    May 24, 3:10 am

    What if it does hit a satellite? And why cant you predict the time i have been up for hours!!??

  8. Marilyn olmstead
    orlando FL
    May 24, 2:37 am

    Orlando be available to see it. What time?

  9. Bryan
    United States
    May 23, 6:36 pm

    The meteor shower will occur from 2 to 4 a.m. Eastern time. If Billy lives in Ohio, and Ohio is in the Eastern time zone, when should Billy……..ohhhhh poor Billy.

  10. Lloyd
    Sandton, SA
    May 23, 5:22 pm

    Not very happy to be missing a sight such as this tomorrow.

  11. Lloyd
    Sandton, SA
    May 23, 5:22 pm

    Not very happy to be missing a sight such as this tomorrow. Thank you internet.

  12. bobisawsome
    antartica
    May 23, 9:36 am

    lol guys your hilarious

  13. Ed
    Virginia
    May 23, 9:33 am

    Jared: I understand the 3-D aspect… But given your explanation, why do we have the regular annual meteor showers, like the one every year from Haley’s comet?

  14. ClaudeSuck.de
    Germany
    May 23, 8:11 am

    Will see it from my toilet?

  15. Ann Marie
    Bear DE
    May 23, 1:58 am

    I will admit that I did laugh at Shubin Ramdeep’s (if that is his real name??) comment above. I took my daughter and one of her friends to a park that is far away from the city lights to see the Perisades one year. We each saw one comet .People who stayed In New Castle saw hundreds of them I may take to the park again this year. It was like party with so many carloads of people up there.

  16. Stewart
    Chardon
    May 22, 8:12 pm

    I would like to go to Observatory Park..one of only 8 official “International Dark Sky” parks in North America..but it closes at 11pm. Anybody know of a good location that is accessible all night long?

  17. jamie hoy
    United State, Ohio
    May 22, 5:30 pm

    What time in ohio?

  18. Sohini Bose
    Kolkata (INDIA)
    May 22, 4:52 pm

    Hi I saw a shooting star just an hour back at around 1 am IST in the south-western sky. Is it a part of this meteor shower or is it some random shooting star ?

  19. Kalhan Kuchroo
    India
    May 22, 1:17 pm

    Will India be able to see it?
    If yes then at what time?
    Will the shower cause any damage?

  20. Daniel
    Dunfermline - Scotland - UK
    May 22, 1:11 pm

    Hi,
    Also, it will be possible to see a satellite shower too. I wonder how they can predict a fatal collision in order to protect the ISS and its crew members. ……. remember movie Gravity…..mmm

  21. jesus
    Wasco, California
    May 22, 12:26 pm

    I can’t wait to see it

  22. Selena
    East Coast, USA
    May 22, 11:42 am

    Based on predictions, North America is “favored” for the show. But since this is a new shower/storm and predictions don’t always pan out, countries outside the US should definitely take a peek at their skies. You may see nothing, two or three bright shooting stars or you may turn out to be the favored country and see hundreds. Going by their models, we should be in the debris field for at least 24 hours, allowing meteors to fall in many different places. So everyone has a chance, albeit a small one, to witness this beautiful cosmic event. But remember, this shower could be a dud for everyone. I’m located in the spot considered “best” for optimal viewing of the peak and I’m not getting my hopes up. Good luck!

  23. nizar
    Indonesia
    May 22, 11:28 am

    How in Indonesia, does it (the even) would occur ?

  24. Adil Adil
    marrakech
    May 22, 11:05 am

    I see it in merzouga sahara in morrocco tat was fest time in life wow

  25. Shubin Ramdeep
    New York
    May 22, 9:00 am

    To all the non-Americans asking if they will see the shower, the answer is NO. This is an American meteor shower — created by God for Americans only. If Canadians or Mexicans try to take a sneak peek, we may have to raise tariffs on their exports.

  26. Suhan Butt
    Pakistan
    May 22, 7:33 am

    Can I see Meteor Shower From Pakistan ???
    Plz Do Tell Me

  27. zahid
    north east India
    May 22, 6:17 am

    at what time will be the shower seem from north-east india

  28. Arl San
    Southern California
    May 22, 4:14 am

    Any star/meteor gazing parties (amateur astronomers) this Saturday night in the Inland Empire – Riverside, California.

    Thanks for the info and instruction!

  29. jenny Murdoch
    south africa
    May 22, 3:38 am

    is there a possibility the shower could hit satellites?

  30. Елена
    Россия, Западная Сибирь
    May 22, 2:53 am

    Can I watch it in Siberia, Omsk, without special equipment?

  31. Noussayba
    Morocco
    May 21, 6:00 pm

    is it possible to see it in the north africa ?

  32. jasmin syedda
    U.S
    May 21, 5:16 pm

    Will I be able to see it? I hope I can! U.S

  33. Shalby
    Egypt
    May 21, 4:55 pm

    Will it appear in Egypt ?

  34. ghass
    syria
    May 21, 4:39 pm

    is it possible to see it in the midel east ? and at what local time ? syria exclusive ?

  35. saba
    London
    May 21, 4:06 pm

    I would like to know if the meteor shower can be seen from London (UK).

  36. Edmar Augusto Gomes
    Brazil
    May 21, 3:39 pm

    Will it be visible from the south hemisphere?

  37. Mark
    South africa
    May 21, 3:24 pm

    And Southern Africa?

  38. Ricky Dewet
    za
    May 21, 3:05 pm

    I don’t think it would be visible to south africa? And what chances is there if this fireballs fall on earth?

  39. Heiko
    Germany - Northrhein Westfalia
    May 21, 2:50 pm

    Any chance that the meteor shower will be seeable in Germany?

  40. pwi
    Argentina
    May 21, 12:55 pm

    as is the situation for the southern hemisphere? we may see hundreds of stars? or only see a few?

  41. David
    Philippines
    May 21, 12:52 pm

    Will it appear on our country? Philippines?

  42. josh
    May 21, 11:46 am

    this is stupid

  43. Mlentz
    Garner, NC
    May 21, 11:28 am

    Because this is the first time, the earth is passing through its debris field.

  44. vishal
    india
    May 21, 11:10 am

    I’m excited but I don’t think it’ll appear in India. I really wanna see meteor shower. Any chances??

  45. Andrew Fazekas
    May 21, 10:25 am

    Because of the predicted timing of the peak of this new shower, North Americans are favored. Latest predictions point to a specific peak time of 2:30 to 3:30 am Eastern Daylight Time on May 24, Saturday morning. That means around midnight for folks on the Pacific Coast. If conditions are right sky-watchers may see may as much as a two shooting stars every minute during that time. There is also a super-optimistic outside chance that as many as 1000 meteors per hour may fall. Remember to head out to a dark sky location away from city lights to get to see all the meteors – even the faint ones.

    Models also show there may be plenty of fireballs associated with this debris stream too. So if you live in North America it will definitely be worth staying up late for this sky event. Let’s just cross our fingers that predictions hold true.

  46. shi peng
    Singapore
    May 21, 2:35 am

    will the meteor shower appear at south east Asia

    • Andrew Fazekas
      May 21, 10:31 am

      Unfortunately the time of the predicted short peak for this shower occurs when it is nighttime in North America. But since predictions are wrong sometime – it might be worth looking up in the sky on your late Friday and Saturday nights.

  47. Jared
    Illinois
    May 20, 11:36 pm

    Ed: If you look at the graphic shown early in the article, the one showing the orbits of the inner 5 planets. You see the elliptical orbit? The one that meets Earth’s orbit where the blue arrow is? That’s the orbit this comet takes around the sun. But those orbits in the picture move three dimensionally, that’s why we haven’t past this cloud in the past 200 years. Orbits aren’t held at a constant angle relative to the sun.

  48. Bill
    May 20, 11:35 pm

    Because of our current location in the galaxy. Even though we complete a revolution around the sun in a year, our solar system, the milky way, is also moving in a great rotation within the galaxy.

  49. jana
    mercury
    May 20, 6:16 pm

    If my theory proves true, a partical will cause a nuclear spill when it hits earth during 6 to 8am during the showers peak. High levels of mercury poisoning are already rising cus we are putting harmful vapors in the air that are not at levels high enough to sustain plant life. Coal can be used to cultivate mercury and weed growth where extraction through combustion

  50. Ed
    Virginia
    May 20, 1:21 pm

    If the comet has been in its orbit for hundreds of years, why is this the first time we will have a meteor shower from it?