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Brand-new meteor shower expected tonight

Meteors from tonight's brand-new shower are expected to radiate from a point near the North Star.

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Meteors from tonight's brand-new shower are expected to radiate from a point near the North Star.

Clear skies in the forecast and mild overnight lows are excellent news for local skywatchers, who are anticipating a great night for meteor watching.

Tonight, May 23, the Earth will head through a trail of fresh dust and debris from the comet 209P/LINEAR. Those particles will streak through the atmosphere tonight, burning up as meteors.

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Since the planet has never ploughed through this trail before, astronomers aren't sure exactly what to expect, but some are predicting anywhere from 100 to 1,000 meteors may be visible per hour at the peak of the shower.

The comet that shed this debris is a relatively dim one that was discovered in 2004. The trail that Earth will be passing through was left after comet passes in the 1800s.

NASA scientists expect the meteor shower to be active throughout the night, tonight, but the peak should be between 1–3 a.m. on Saturday morning.

"We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s," said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. "The parent comet doesn’t appear to be very active now, so there could be a great show, or there could be little activity."

It's to be known as the Camelopardalids shower, named after a constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. Camelopardalis — also known as 'the giraffe' — is a faint constellation near the North Star.

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