Camelopardalid Meteor Shower: A Spectacular “Maybe”

May 21, 2014

Earthlings may finally get a glimpse of a meteor shower hundreds of years in the making on Friday, that’s if the comet called 209P/LINEAR left enough space dust in its trail to be visible in Earth’s night sky.

Friday's meteor shower may turn out to be nonexistent, but astronomers hope it will be spectacular.
Credit NASA

“If, 200 years ago when nobody knew it existed, it was a really active comet that threw off a bunch of stuff, we’re in for a great show. If, however, it was not an active comet, we may be just standing out there watching the sky and not seeing much,” said Utah's NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins.

Wiggins says the shower would be the first time the Earth has passed through this particular debris trail.

Two years ago, when the comet was discovered, astronomers predicted a spectacular meteor storm. But, as the predicted event has gotten closer, astronomers have gotten less bold in their predictions. Now, Wiggins says most astronomers are just hoping the shower will occur.

Here’s Wiggins' viewing suggestions for the shower:

“Go someplace dark, get away from the city, lay back, look up, have something hot to drink that will keep you awake, have some friends around, that always helps too. Make it kind of a party atmosphere and watch the sky and hope that we see history.”

The meteor shower is predicted to originate from the northern constellation Cameolpardelis. Wiggins says the best time to look up is between midnight on Friday and 2 a.m. on Saturday morning.