Meteor shower expected to light up the sky early Saturday


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Imagine a life before the invention of technology and electricity.

Instead of using your computer or other electronics for pleasure, many people looked to the sky to pass the time.

Over time, we have found other planets, galaxies, and comets, and the tails of those comets have produced spectacular light shows in our night sky. If lucky, we might see the most awe-inspiring meteor shower of our lives.

A new meteor shower early Saturday morning could be the rarest of its kind.

“We'll go through the path of this comet, and we will see debris that that comet has left behind in the solar system, which again is not very much, but it takes very little for us to see a meteor,” said Dr. Henry Scott, Associate Professor of Physics at IU South Bend.

But to understand how these meteor showers work, we need to know what a meteor is.

“A meteor is just a bright streak in the night sky that comes from an extraterrestrial object entering the high part of the atmosphere,” Scott said.

These fragments of space debris, made up of dust and ice, move across the sky very quickly, leaving streaks of light.

“They very rapidly burn up. They are rarely bigger than a grain of sand. They almost never make it to earth's surface. But they're really high up, so they make a very nice light show,” Scott said.

In 2004, a comet by the name of 209p/linear was discovered in the night sky. This comet has left debris that earth will move through Saturday morning, with some forecasters predicting nearly 200 meteors per hour.

The meteor shower will originate out of the constellation Camelopardalis, which isn't a household name.

“Historically, it was viewed as something that looked kind of like a cross between a camel and a leopard, which we might now recognize as a giraffe,” Scott said.

To find Camelopardalis, look above the horizon and west of the constellation Cassiopeia, which looks like the letter "w" in the northeast sky.

“If you just look in that general area, that's your best bet for seeing streaks,” Scott said.

The Camelopardalis meteor shower should peak between the hours 2 and 4 a.m. Saturday. The best place to view any meteor shower is in an area where there is very little light pollution. Potato Creek is a great example.


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