By Michael Kuhne
For the first time ever, a debris field of the newly discovered Comet LINEAR will pass through Earth’s atmosphere, sparking a new meteor shower for sky-watchers primarily in the Northern Hemisphere.
“The peak will occur from Friday night into Saturday morning,” AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mark Paquette said, adding meteors can still be seen a few days before and after, but the main grouping of meteors will occur at that time.
The new meteor shower, Camelopardalids, is a result of Comet 209P/LINEAR which was discovered in 2004, he said.
“It’s brand new,” he said, referring to the opportunity to view the shower this week.
The best viewing conditions will be areas across most of North America.
“Generally it will be best (due to clearer skies) across the West, the Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic and eastern Gulf Coast,” Paquette said.
The best states for viewing include California, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.
Areas hindered by clouds will include much of New England, the Plains, southern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.
Early predictions indicate an average of 100 meteors per hour, which constitutes an average meteor shower.
“Meteor storms and meteor showers are different, a shower is generally anywhere from 40 or 50 to 100 meteors per hours,” Paquette said. “A meteor storm is usually 1,000 per hour.”
Another issue for viewing meteor showers is the lunar phase, Paquette added, but the night that the meteor shower peaks, a waning crescent will be present.
“The moon shouldn’t be a huge deal for this event,” he said.
Sky-watchers should look to Polaris, or the North Star, for direction when looking for the meteors.
Unlike most meteor showers, the Camelopardalids was not predicted well in advance because it is such a new discovery.
Astronomers can usually predict meteor showers well in advance because they know the location of debris fields and the movement of Earth’s orbit.
Meteors are a collection of dust and small rocks, usually high in iron, that glow bright when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and are disintegrated by the high heat, resulting from friction upon entry, Paquette said.
More at AccuWeather: Never Before Seen Meteor Shower to Ignite Across Skies: Where to See It