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Space

Witness the Birth of a Meteor Shower 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretty-lights-in-the-sky dept.
StartsWithABang writes: "Here on Earth, we think of shooting stars and meteor showers as things that happen periodically; sometimes they're spectacular, sometimes they're rare. But in all cases, they're caused by comet debris, and they should flare up each time the Earth crosses the comet's path. But as it turns out, every meteor shower had a point in its past where it happened for the very first time. In all of human history, we've never recorded one that occurred for the very first time where none happened before. Well, for those of you who want to take the chance to be a part of it, this coming Friday night/Saturday morning, look for the Camelopardalids, making their Earthly debut this year!"
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Witness the Birth of a Meteor Shower

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  • Cameltoetards (Score:5, Informative)

    by tquasar (1405457) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @07:28AM (#47055135)
    Another view from some space guy, Dr Phillips: http://science.nasa.gov/scienc... [nasa.gov]
  • Re:Camelopardalids? (Score:4, Informative)

    by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @08:07AM (#47055369)

    Long legs like a camel, spots like a leopard. Not that hazy really. Actually more descriptive than Giraffe itself ("zarafa"), "fast walker".

  • by kaladorn (514293) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @01:43PM (#47058585) Homepage Journal
    A friend of mine who works for NASA (or at least in the downstream distribution of NASA satellite data) and is an amateur astronomer and photographer sent me this information: (Thanks Indy!) - Maybe it'll be useful to some....

    So, this coming weekend, specifically Friday night/Saturday morning, there is to be a brand spanky new meteor shower happening. So brand spanky new it hasn't been observed before, because the dust from the associated comet has not intersected with Earth's path until now. And because of all the uncertainty with the debris stream, there are heavy caveats to "this MAY happen" - but if it does...brand new event never before seen!

    Given that it's so new, that nothing is *known* about it, anything could happen. It could fizzle. Or it could become the most spectacular thing to happen since the Leonid meteor storm of 2002 (it is unlikely, however great this meteor shower gets, that it'll get THAT good!).

    So, first, the nuts and bolts for this weekend. The meteor shower is *predicted* to reach it's peak between the hours of 2am and 4am Eastern Daylight Time on the morning of May 24th (adjust your times accordingly with respect to your time zones; example, midnight to 2am Mountain Time). BUT, because there are uncertainties in exactly where the dust ball is that we will be passing by, it could peak upwards of a few hours on either side of that. However, the meteor folk who have been tracking this stuff are reasonably confident on their predict times.

    Further to this, it's not known how distributed the debris cloud is. It could be pretty compact, in which case the peak may last only a few minutes. Or it could be fairly distributed, in which case the peak could last for hours. Or it could be clumpy, in which case there may be more than one peak! Again, new brand spanky new meteor shower, we have no idea yet! :-D

    Second, the meteor shower will appear to be coming out of the *very* obscure constellation of Camelopardalis, which is situated to the right of the Big Dipper, left of Cassiopeia, and below the Little Dipper (see attached image). It's a pretty sparse area of sky. The constellation is so obscure that in the decades of my looking at the sky, I've never tried tracing it out. Maybe this weekend I finally will. :-D

    So, given the above radiant, your best option to face during the shower is to the north (and if you're not sure where that is - and not everyone does, especially if they are directionally challenged - remember where the sun went down, then stand so that direction is off to your left :-) ). But don't *focus* on staring to the north! Look around. Face east a bit. West. Look overhead! Meteors can fall all around. It's just that you will likely see more (albeit shorter, quicker) meteors coming out of the north than you will to the west, east, or overhead (which will be longer, and slower, but relatively fewer). But don't restrict yourself to only northward-looking.

    Darkness. If at all possible, you want to find the darkest location you can to see this. That means, getting out of and AWAY from the cities. Light pollution will utterly swamp the sky, and you won't see ANYthing. :-( The further away from lights you can get, the better. And get to a location where you have open skies, a view to the north, and can see as much of the sky as possible (being in the middle of the woods - dark or not - won't do you a bit of good in viewing the sky much)

    Dressing for the Weather. Assuming it'll be clear where you are, check the forecasted temperature lows, and dress as if it will be 10-15 degrees cooler/colder than that. Hats are good. :-) Meteor watching - heck, night sky watching in general - is not among the more heat-inducing activities. ;-) Also, lawn chairs or blankets, and sleeping bags, are nice to have. Be comfortable!

    What you MIGHT expect to see? Really, nobody *knows* for certain, but I've seen some healthy numbers tossed out t

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