Space news (the solar system: comets and asteroids; Comet 209P/LINEAR)
Debris ejected from Comet 209P/LINEAR during the 18th – 20th centuries could lighten the skies in southern Canada tonight. Expectations are for a possible Camelopardalis meteorite shower between 2 – 4 a.m EST tonight. Astronomers aren’t really sure if the show will be spectacular or a small production. In fact, they don’t have any data indicating how active the comet was during the past two centuries when the comet’s debris tails are believed to have been created.
The show could be one to forget or unforgettable, it all depends on a lot of factors. As the Earth passes through the debris field of Comet 209/P LINEAR tonight, small pieces of dust and particles could be released into the atmosphere that will create bright streaks of light we call meteorites. Estimates run as high as 200 meteorites per hour are being thrown around, which is 100 meteorites higher than the Perseids and Leonids in November. This could probably best be termed a meteorite storm, rather than a shower, and the true number could be even higher.
The best time to view the Camelopardalis meteorite shower is 12 midnight May 24, 2014, but I suggest you get there early. The shower will occur through a very narrow window of opportunity for viewers in southern Canada if we get a show to see. You won’t need to use binoculars or a telescope, just bring a blanket to lay on or chair to sit in, and something to warm the stomach.
Pick the darkest spot you can conveniently reach and you should be able to see even faint meteorites, which are probably unassociated with the Camelopardalis meteorite shower. White light will destroy your natural night vision, which will take 15 to 30 minutes to return. This includes light sources like cell phones and flashlights unless the light is red, so keep this in mind.
Look toward the Big Dipper and find the last star from the spoon. Just follow this star toward the first bright star you see. This star is Polaris and the constellation Camelopardalis, the area of the sky where the Camelopardalis meteorite shower originates, is near this star.
The most important thing to remember is to look upward during the window of opportunity. Many viewers forget to follow this simple tip and miss part, or all, of the meteorite show.