Comet to pass close to Earth after meteor shower
POSTED: Saturday, May 24, 2014 - 3:20pm
UPDATED: Saturday, May 24, 2014 - 3:29pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Was the late night and sore necks worth gazing up in the sky for the unique meteor shower that was visible in the middle of the night?
For those of you unaware, it was the the Camelopardalid shower, and some scientists were predicting 200 to 1,000 meteors an hour between 2 and 4 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday.
But judging from Facebook, many people across the country didn't get a glimpse of it.
This cosmic event appeared to have little bang in some places, while delivering a the show was pretty clear in others.
But don't worry, there is still an Act II.
For die-hard star geeks, an even bigger treat, is on its way as the last part of the shower, a comet, passes by Earth, beginning Saturday evening.
Not to sound dramatic, but there will probably never be a second chance for the May Camelopardalids meteor shower.
Many showers come annually, in October, December, January and April, said NASA meteor observer Bill Cooke.
In August, for example, we will see the return of the spectacular Perseid meteor shower.
But the Camelopardalids shower, named for the constellation the shooting stars appeared to fly out of, was a rare gift from Jupiter.
The biggest planet in the solar system bent the meteors' orbit with its powerful gravitational pull so that they would collide with Earth.
Jupiter will fling the comet our way, too, causing it to fly by our planet at a distance of 5 million miles, which according to Cooke, is a comfortable distance, and the first time it passes by the Earth so close.
Those who want a sneak peek through a more powerful telescope can get it from 6 p.m. ET Saturday via the online observatory service Slooh.
Or if you have your own telescope, model 3-inch-reflector telescope to be exact, should be able to see it in the north sky late Wednesday, if the skies are clear.
And good news is, it is looking pretty promising.
You can catch all the action close to where you saw the meteor shower.
It will appear to emanate from a point near the North Star, in the dim constellation Camelopardalis (the Giraffe).
Here's the bad news.
After many passes around the solar system, the comet doesn't have much of a tail left, so gazers shouldn't expect to see a long, stunning ribbon trailing it, just a short dash.
I personally won't promise you'll see much, but then again I'm no astronomer. But this cosmic event could be a good excuse to spend the night out in a remote area with some good friends and enjoy the night.