If you live in North or Central America, you just might have front row seats to a rare and spectacular meteor shower.
Scientists said that the view might even better if you happen to be in the northwestern United States or in southern Canada
NASA said the shower — dubbed the May Camelopardalids, which can mean either ‘camel leopard’ or giraffe in Latin — could possibly light up the sky sometime between 0230 and 1100 UTC on May 24.
This celestial light show should take place early Saturday morning, but scientists aren’t absolutely sure. Since this is a new meteor shower, there’s also a chance that it might take place at another time or possibly not at all.
At its peak, which should be between 0600 and 0800 UTC, May 24, the May Camelopardalids could produce about 200 or so meteors per hour.
A meteor shower occurs when a number of meteors originate from one point in the night sky. They are caused by cosmic debris which enters the Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories.
The new meteor shower is being produced because Earth will be making its way through a field of dust and other debris generated by Comet 209P/LINEAR, which is looping back into the deep solar system after a recent rendezvous with the Sun.
The comet doesn’t seem to be particularly active at the moment, but it is dragging some of the refuse material it ejected in its previous 5-year trips around the sun. The amount of remaining debris will also factor into how active a meteor shower this will be.
Part of the comet’s name – LINEAR – is actually an acronym for Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research which is the name of a research project that discovered the comet back in February 2004.
The comet got within about 13,463,808 kilometers of the Sun back on May 6, 2014. The 209P/LINEAR is also supposed to get pretty close to Earth on May 29, 2014 where it’ll pass us from a distance of about 5,983,915 kilometers.
Along with the upcoming May Camelopardalids, stargazers will also be getting set to observe two of the most popular annual meteor showers, the Perseid, which peaks in August and the Leonid meteor showers that usually takes place every November.