A spectacular new meteor shower might—just might—light up the skies this weekend.
When NASA writes “Calling all citizen scientists!” it’s hard not to feel an answering surge of excitement, especially when what it’s calling on you to do is check the skies for a never-before-seen meteor shower.
Two years ago, meteor experts announced that dust from Comet 209P/LINEAR (dust produced largely in the 1880s, we might add) would cross Earth’s orbit on May 24, 2014, perhaps producing “a significant meteor outburst.” A spectacular show is not fully guaranteed because, as NASA’s William Cooke is quoted as saying in the video above, “We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s. As a result of this uncertainty, this could be a great meteor shower or a complete dud.”
Peak viewing for Torontonians should occur early Saturday, between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. NASA stresses, though, that “surprises are possible,” so you’d be well advised to keep your eyes on the skies—mostly on the part that features the constellation of Camelopardalis—before and after that time window. North Americans will be in a particularly good position to appreciate the (possible) spectacle, because the shower’s peak will occur here during the night.
And even if it doesn’t produce 200 meteors per hour, as some experts predict it will, and you find yourself chilly and meteor-less this weekend, NASA wants you to know that all is not lost. On the morning of May 25, a crescent moon and Venus will be rising together just before the sun. And as Cooke says, “That’s a nice way to start the day, meteors or not.”