5 things to know about tonight's meteor shower

5 things to know about tonight's meteor shower

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

5 things to know about tonight's meteor shower

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by Jessica Durando, USA TODAY Network

KREM.com

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Updated Saturday, May 24 at 7:16 AM

A first-of-its-kind meteor shower is expected to happen Friday night and into early Saturday morning. Here is what you need to know about the all-new shower:

1. What is the Camelopardalid meteor shower? It would be dust from a periodic comet called the 209/LINEAR. The Earth has never run into the debris from this particular comet before.

2. Why is it unique? Unlike other meteor showers expected to be visible around the same time of year, the Camelopardalid is uncommon because its debris is strongly influenced by Jupiter's gravity. No one has seen it before, but the May shower could rival the Perseid meteor shower in August.

3. When is the optimal time to view it? People in North America will get the best look, and peak activity will be from 11 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. PDT Saturday.

4. What will it look like? Perhaps what is most exciting is that it is unclear what the shower will resemble. "It could be practically nothing, or it could be a couple hundred meteors per hour," said William Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

5. Camelopardalid is an odd moniker. How are they named? Meteor showers' names are for the constellation from which the meteors seem to radiate. That point is known as the radiant, and the radiant for Camelopardalid will be the constellation Camelopardalis (the giraffe).

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