Tonight, the earth will pass through a cloud of debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in 2004. The resulting new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, is expected to peak Friday night into Saturday morning. Mid-latitudes in North America are predicted to have the best views. Models suggest that the best viewing hours are from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. EDT on May 24. Initial predictions placed the zenithal hourly rate at 1,000 per hour, which would’ve pushed the meteor shower into the storm category. Realistically, we will probably see about 200 to 400 meteors at the shower’s peak, or 5 meteors/minute! The Camelopardalids have the potential to beat out the Perseids for the title of best celestial spectacle of the year, according to a report on RedOrbit.com. Since this meteor shower may become an annual event, people are already calling it the May Camelopardalids.
According to earthsky.org, the meteors will radiate from the constellation Camelopardalis (camelopard), an obscure northern constellation. Its name is derived from early Rome, where it was thought of as a composite creature, having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. This constellation is in the northern sky, close to the north celestial pole, making this meteor shower better for the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere. If you are unable to see the meteor showers outside, the Slooh space camera has got you covered with a live broadcast. Watch the celestial show, starting tonight at 11 p.m. EDT.