Friday, May 23, 2014


File:Perseid meteor and Milky Way in 2009.jpg
This photograph shows a Perseid meteor striking the sky just to the left of the Milky Way Galaxy. The annual Perseid Meteor Shower in August is normally considered the greatest meteor shower of the year. However, scientists predict that a new meteor shower, with debris related to Comet 209P/LINEAR, could be the strongest meteor shower / storm visible in North America in 2014, expected May 23-24 !

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Tonight (May 23 to 24) scientists predict the appearance of a new meteor shower, which could be the largest of the year for the Western Hemisphere--or it could be a dud. This is the problem with scientific predictions, particularly for something brand new.

The new meteor shower is predicted to reach its peak Friday night / Saturday morning between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m. EDT (May 24, 5:00 to 8:00 Coordinated Universal Time), when, if the meteor shower is as good as predicted, it could prove to actually be a meteor storm with as many as 200 meteors visible per hour ! However, that would be the maximum visible, and it is more likely that most people would see somewhat less than that, again, if reality meets the current predictions.

And, so long as the weather cooperates. Most meteors are visible from the high atmosphere, so any cloud cover could make most meteors invisible to surface viewers.

Also, for people with a good view of the Moon, after it rises about a half-hour before the end of the predicted peak time period (Moon rise in Pittsburgh May 24: 3:25 a.m. EDT / 7:25 UTC), look for possible meteor impacts on the Moon. Yes, meteor showers affect the Moon at the same time they affect the Earth.

Although it is always very difficult to view a meteor hitting the lighted side of the Moon (unless it is a huge meteor or an asteroid), it may be possible to see meteors hitting a darkened portion of the Moon. The Moon is now a waning crescent phase, which means that more than half of the Moon visible from the Earth is not sunlit. So, it may be possible to see some larger meteors hit this portion of the Moon. So, keep watching the Moon, as you look for meteors.

If the weather does not cooperate where you are viewing, this meteor shower will be web-cast:

Slooh Community Observatory:  Link >>>

Virtual Telescope Project 2.0: Link >>> 

The stream of debris that is predicted to cause this meteor shower / storm comes from the faint Comet 209P / LINEAR. This meteor shower will radiate from the far northern Constellation Camelopardalis. So meteors will seem to radiate from the northern part of the sky. However, be aware that during any meteor shower, meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time!

Although tonight, during the 1:00 to 4:00 hours is predicted to be the peak of this meteor shower, remember that this is just a prediciction. The peak may come earlier or later, depending on variables that may not be currently known. Also, although tonight is predicted to be the peak, some meteors may be visible over the next few days from this shower, but do not expect as many as predicted for tonight.

And, whichever day you choose to watch for meteors during a meteor shower, it is always best to watch between local Midnight and daybreak. This is the time when the Earth rotates into a meteor shower.      

More on this meteor shower:
Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

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