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Astronomers Hopeful of New Sky Show From Passing Comet

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("Sky & Telescope" illustration of the path of Comet 209/P Linear, which is nearing Earth's orbit.  Graphic used with permission of Sky & Telescope)

(“Sky & Telescope” illustration of the path of Comet 209/P Linear, which is nearing Earth’s orbit. Graphic used with permission of Sky & Telescope)

Kim Glovas Kim Glovas
Kim Glovas has been covering breaking and developing news as a...
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By Kim Glovas

VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) — A newly discovered meteor shower may be visible in the wee hours of Saturday morning if the weather cooperates.

One name for the meteor shower in “Comet 209/P Linear.”  The other is the Camelopardalids.

Villanova astronoyy professor Ed Guinan says this meteor shower is the remains of a comet which is scattering debris in the Earth’s orbit.

Meteor showers, caused by the passage of Earth through a debris field during its orbit around the sun, normally occur on the same dates every year.  But this is new debris field in the Earth’s path.

(Periodic comet 209P/Linear, as photographed on May 17th.  Straight lines and dashes are trails from background stars.  Photo by Gianluca Masi/ Virtual Telescope Project.  Used with permission, Sky & Telescope)

(Periodic comet 209P/Linear, as photographed on May 17th. Straight lines and dashes are trails from background stars. Photo by Gianluca Masi/ Virtual Telescope Project. Used with permission, Sky & Telescope)

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Guinan says that since it’s so new, we don’t know what to expect.

“It may be spectacular, (we) might see 200 to 400 meteors an hour,” he notes.  “On the other hand, since it’s never been seen before, no one knows what’s going to happen.  It could be just a few shooting stars.  So this is the odd thing: it’s never been seen.  So this is kind of fun.”

He says the best time for the meteor shower is expected to be 2am, but  being outside between midnight and 4am would give you the biggest window for the shooting star show, weather permitting.

 

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