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A brand new meteor shower from comet 209P/LINEAR just might develop this Friday night, and it could be a REALLY good one!  Then again, predicting the intensity of a meteor shower is a lot like predicting which clown will emerge from the Republican clown car to make the stupid/bizarre statement of the week.

Since this is the first shower from this particular comet, it's hard to tell how it will turn out, but some predictions are in the really, really cool range.

Predicted rates for this new shower are quite high, about 100 – 400 meteors per hour, far higher than normal showers. And they’ll appear to be coming from an area of the sky near the north pole, so they should be visible raining down all over the sky!

Meteor showers are named after the constellation that they appear to radiate from, so this one is named Camelopardalis, the giraffe.  The reason we'll be seeing this shower this year is because Jupiter nudged the comet and debris trail.

When closest at perihelion, 209P/LINEAR passes some 90 million miles from the sun. At the far end of its orbit it’s about Jupiter’s distance from the sun. In 2012, during a relatively close pass of that planet, Jupiter perturbed its orbit, bringing the comet and its debris trails to within 280,000 miles (450,000 km) of Earth’s orbit, close enough to spark a meteor shower.
One of the reasons this could be a good show is the slow speed the meteors might be travelling.
Meteors from 209P/LINEAR are expected to be bright and slow with speeds around 40,000 mph compared to an average of 130,000 mph for the Perseids. Most shower meteoroids are minute specks of rock, but the Camelopardalids (Cam-el-o-PAR-duh-lids) – let’s just call them ‘Cams’ –  contain a significant number of particles larger than 1mm, big enough to flare as fireballs.
So here's the when.
Shower observing times across Canada and U.S.:

* Eastern Daylight Time 1:30-5 a.m. with the peak around 3 a.m.

* Central Daylight Time 12:30-4 a.m. with a 2 a.m. peak

* Mountain Daylight Time 11:30-3 a.m. with a 1 a.m. peak

* Pacific Daylight Time 10:30-2 a.m. with a peak at midnight

And here's the where.
So find yourself a dark place, cross your fingers, and kick back an enjoy mother nature's fireworks show.

Originally posted to pollwatcher on Tue May 20, 2014 at 06:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

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