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Tonight’s New ‘Giraffes’ Meteor Shower Could Be A Great One

A map from NASA predicts the peak viewing areas and times for the Camelopardalids meteor shower Friday night and early Saturday.

A meteor streaks across the sky north of Castaic Lake, Calif., during last year's Perseid meteor shower. NASA says that tonight's Camelopardalids shower, which has never been seen before, could rival the famous August shower.

An all-new meteor shower makes its debut tonight, and astronomers say it could put on a show starting as early as 10:30 p.m. ET Friday and peaking early Saturday. Called the Camelopardalids, the shower is named after the giraffe constellation. It's expected to be visible in nearly all of the U.S., if skies are clear.

"No one has seen it before," NASA says, "but the shower could put on a show that would rival the prolific Perseid meteor shower in August."

The shower is new to earthlings because its parent, Comet 209P/LINEAR, was only discovered 10 years ago. It passes through Earth's orbit of the sun once every five years or so, leaving a trail of debris behind it.

"North America is well placed for observing the May Camelopardalids," NASA says, adding that "observations are best from the northwestern United States and southern Canada."

The space agency posted a map highlighting when different areas will have the best chance to see the shower (we'll note that 06:00 UTC translates to 2 a.m. ET). But you'll need clear skies to see it — and the folks at Accuweather.com have posted their own viewing map, based on tonight's weather predictions.

Astronomers say the Camelopardalids will peak between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET, with a radiant point near Polaris, the North Star.

But as NASA notes, "You don't need to look in any particular direction, just straight up. Meteors can appear all over the sky."

While astronomers are hoping the shower will give viewers a spectacle, they can't be certain that'll happen. It all depends on how much dust the comet threw off hundreds of years ago, in the 1700s and 1800s.

"If Comet 209P/LINEAR was a poor producer of debris, we'll see nothing," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke tells The Washington Post. "But if the comet was more active 200 or 300 years ago, we'll see a decent show. What happens this Saturday morning was determined a few hundred years ago."

NASA says that "a rate of 200 meteors per hour during the peak may be possible." And because the Camelopardalids travel at much slower speeds than other annual meteors, the effect could be "majestic," Joe Rao of Space.com says. "Instead of swift streaks that blaze into incandescence within a heartbeat and are gone just a second or two later, tonight's meteors might move across the sky in a relatively slow, almost majestic manner."

NASA's Cooke will be hosting a live Web chat about the meteor shower tonight, on a page that will also include streaming video of the skies over the space agency's Huntsville, Ala., facility.

Comet 209P/LINEAR is still active, ranging between the sun and Jupiter. It'll pass within about 3.7 million miles of Earth on May 29, according to NASA's estimates.

To help you talk about the meteor shower, here's how the AP says to pronounce the name: CA-mull-oh-PAR-duh-lids.

One final note: If you're planning to watch the Camelopardalids and you like beer — and you live in Pennsylvania — you're in luck. This meteor shower already has its own beer — or at least, there's one named for its namesake constellation.

The Camelopardalis is a Belgian IPA from Weyerbacher Brewing in Easton, Pa., that recently came out in a limited release. A review on Beer Advocate says it has an aroma "of citrus, honey, hoppy floral, and apple cider," with "a drying, spicy finish."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

Comments

Avatar for user 'bgrnathan'

bgrnathan | May 26, 2014 at 7 a.m. ― 3 months ago

ASTEROIDS, COMETS, AND METEORS ORIGINATED FROM EARTH: In the Earth's past there were powerful volcanic explosions propelling millions of tons of earth soil and rock (now asteroids and meteors which may contain organic molecules or organisms) into space. Read my popular Internet article, ANY LIFE ON MARS CAME FROM EARTH. The article explains how millions of tons of Earth soil may exist on Mars, and how debris we call asteroids and meteors could have originated from Earth. According to a Newsweek article of September 21, 1998, p. 12 that quotes a NASA scientist, SEVEN MILLION tons of Earth soil may exist on Mars! How could this be possible? Read and find out.

Even if the right chemicals exist, life cannot arise by chance. The molecules that make-up life have to be in a sequence, just like the letters found in a sentence.

Scientist and creationist, Brian Thomas explains:

“Astronomers measure comets' masses and erosion rates to calculate potential lifespans. Sun grazing comets last fewer than 100,000 years.2 They thus confront secular astronomy which maintains that comets formed with the rest of the solar system billions of years ago. A solar system that old should have no remaining comets.

How do secularists solve this dilemma?

Reporting on Ison, The Independent said, "Comet Ison has taken millions of years to reach us travelling from the so-called Oort cloud – a reservoir of trillions and trillions of chunks of rock and ice, leftovers from the birth of the planets."3

Unfortunately, nobody has yet witnessed a single one of those "trillions and trillions of chunks." Going strictly with observational science, the "so-called Oort cloud" may exist only in the reservoir of the human mind.

Clearly, secular astronomers invented the Oort cloud to rescue their billions-of-years dogma from a disintegration process that limits a comet's age—and thus the age of the Solar System—to thousands of years. When Ison becomes visible later this year, perhaps it will remind thoughtful viewers that the universe is quite young, just as Scripture teaches” (Brian Thomas, M.S., Science Writer at the Institute for Creation research).

Check out my most recent Internet articles and sites: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION and WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS (2nd Edition)

Babu G. Ranganathan*
B.A. Bible/Biology

Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

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