Meteor showers are not all that uncommon to see in the night sky, as a matter of fact there are a handful of them that we can always count on seeing ever year as comets traveling through outer space pass near the earth’s orbit. But on Friday night we may witness a never before seen meteor shower thanks to a recently discovered comet!
According to NASA, the Comet 209P/LINEAR was discovered back in February of 2004 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, a cooperative effort of NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, and the US Air Force. It is a relatively dim comet that dips inside the orbit of Earth once every five years as it loops around the sun.
Two years ago, meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center announced that Earth was due for an encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Streams of dust ejected by the comet mainly back in the 1800s would cross Earth’s orbit on May 24, 2014. The result, they said, could be a significant meteor outburst.
According to The head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Dr. Bill Cooke, he expects these meteors to radiate from a point in Camelopardalis, also known as ‘the giraffe’, a faint constellation near the North Star.
The meteor shower Friday night is expected to peak between 2 and 4 AM, we’re going to have a clear night so it will definitely be worth checking out. All we have to do is look North towards the North Star! The last time this comet interacted with the earth like this was back in the 1800’s when it passed through the comet’s debris stream, so since there is no record of what it was like there is a chance that it could either be a spectacular shower with over 200 meteors per hour or a complete dud.
Here is a great informational video from NASA about the potential meteor shower!
I’ll be watching! We could be seeing history!