Dazzling meteor showers to light up North American sky early Saturday morning
Peak time from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.
TheDenverChannel.com Team , WXYZ
7:35 PM, May 23, 2014
9:16 PM, May 23, 2014
The North American sky will play host to a new meteor shower in the early morning hours on Saturday.
Scientists say that anywhere from 100 to 400 meteors could be falling through the sky to create a dazzling spectacle.
The comet creating the meteor dust was recently discovered in 2004.
Its path has been altered by Jupiter's gravity over the past 200 years leaving leftover dust right in Earth's path.
The particles from the comet are about the size of a grain of sand, so there is no danger for Earth. When these particles hit the Earth's atmosphere, they will create a beautiful show from the streaks of light across the sky for the Memorial Day weekend.
NASA said this is the first time Earth will directly cross the dusty trails left behind by a recently discovered comet named Comet 209P/LINEAR. The meteors will appear from the northern constellation Camelopardalids.
"What's really nice about this particular comet [209P/Linear] is that we're going right smack in the middle of these dust trails and the meteors are going to be pretty slow," said astronomer Carl Hergenrother. "They're actually going to last maybe for a second or two. It's going to look almost like slow moving fireworks instead of the usual shooting stars that we're used to."
The peak of the shower will be between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. EDT, but Hergenrother said sky-watchers will still see meteors for several hours before and after those times. The biggest advice he has for people is to find a dark, safe place to get cozy and watch the stars.
"Pick someplace where you can see as much of the sky as possible," he said. "It really doesn't matter where in the sky you're looking, even though the meteors will be coming out of the north."
He added that one great thing about meteor showers is that you don't need any special equipment to enjoy the show. Just make sure to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.
For those who miss the Memorial Day weekend meteor shower don't worry. There are two more major meteor showers coming up -- the Perseids happening Aug. 12-13 and the Geminids on Dec. 13-14. There are also several smaller showers throughout the year.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will host a live web chat on Friday from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. To access the chat, log in and ask questions, go to: http://go.nasa.gov/1m3Wrn7
NASA also plans to offer a live stream of the Camelopardalids meteor shower beginning at 9:30 p.m.