Never-before-seen meteor shower set to appear tonight

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Updated Friday, May 23 at 12:38 PM

Jolie Lee, USA TODAY Network

A first-of-its-kind meteor shower is expected to occur Friday night and into early Saturday morning.

The Camelopardalid meteor shower is a first because Earth has never run into the debris from this particular comet.

The Comet 209P/LINEAR is a very dim comet that orbits the sun every five years and was discovered in 2004.

Unlike other meteor showers expected to be visible around the same time of year, the Camelopardalid is unique because its debris is strongly influenced by Jupiter's gravity, which constantly alters the orbit of this comet's debris, said William Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Although NASA is confident when the meteor shower will occur, it's unclear what the shower will look like, Cooke said.

"It could be practically nothing, or it could be a couple hundred meteors per hour," Cooke said.

The debris that Earth will encounter this week is the dust that the comet ejected back in the 1800s, according to NASA.

"Our forecast models aren't helping us because we can simulate things in a computer, but until you see it, you don't know how many particles a comet gives off," Cooke said.

People in North America will get the best view, and peak activity will be from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. ET Saturday.

Click here for a list of 5 things to know about tonight's meteor shower.

 

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