New meteor shower predicted later this month


Astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere are preparing for a spectacle this coming 24th with a possible new meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. The event will be interesting, according to Dr. Paul Adams, Anschutz Professor of Education at Fort Hays State University, "because it's either going to be really good or really bad."

Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in Feb. 2004, ejected cosmic debris into space back in the 1800's. Meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center announced that if conditions are right, then the debris will be visible in the night sky as a spectacular meteor shower, with some forecasters predicting more than 200 meteors per hour.

However, the amount of debris, and therefore the size of the shower, is not definite. According to Dr. Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, "We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s. There could be a great meteor shower -- or a complete dud."

Cooke added that because North America will see the peak during nighttime hours, it will be at an excellent position to observe the meteor shower. Adams advises meteor watchers to go out "a few hours before sunrise" and to "find a dark place, put some chairs down, and watch the skies."

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