Changing Planet

Watch New Meteor Shower Peak in the Sky and Online

This composite photo of a meteor shower created from multiple exposures over the course of a night. A similar sight may be in store this week if a new meteor shower performs at its peak. Courtesy of NASA

Sky-watchers across North America are waiting with great anticipation for the predicted peak of a never-before-seen meteor shower this weekend.

Latest computer models suggest that there may be dozens  if not hundreds of shooting stars per hour at peak time. This sky show has the potential to rival even August’s famed Perseids.

If the most optimistic predictions hold true, then a genuine meteor storm may be in store for sky-watchers, with as many as 200 or more shooting stars per hour flying across our skies at its peak, which will occur in the morning in Europe and very early in North America, on Saturday, May 24.

The new shower, dubbed the May Camelopardalids, is a result of dust shed from the faint periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. The comet regularly crosses Earth’s orbit as it rounds the sun every five years.

illustration shows comet 209P/LINEAR orbit and its current location - about 11 million km from Earth. Credit: SkySafari
This illustration shows comet 209P/LINEAR’s orbit and its current location, about 11 million kilometers from Earth. Courtesy of SkySafari

The coming shower’s parent comet was discovered in February 2004 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research Project. Meteor experts predicted three years ago that the particles ejected by the comet back in the 1800s may await Earth as it circles the sun.

By calculating the movements of the comet’s particle cloud, scientists have been able to determine that Earth should cross this historic debris stream on May 24.

This illustration shows Earth's predicted path through the densest part of the comet debris cloud. Credit: QuanZhi/NASA
This illustration shows Earth’s predicted path through the densest part of the comet debris cloud. Courtesy of  QuanZhi/NASA

Many researchers looking at the data are a bit skeptical, however, on how well the shower will perform. Some believe that it’s hard to tell exactly how much debris Earth will be encountering. They say that the strength of the meteor shower really depends on how active the comet was centuries ago when it deposited the dust.

“We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s,” explained William Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, in a NASA video. “As a result of this uncertainty, this could be a great meteor shower or a complete dud.

“Will this new shower pan out? No one can say for sure, but the only way to know is to head outside and look up.”

Where and When to Look

As with other established showers, the new meteors are named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate—the faint northern constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe, in this case. It resides near the North Star.

To find the constellation, face north in the early morning hours before dawn and look for the Big Dipper in the sky. The giraffe constellation is located to its far right and is about 30 degrees below Polaris, the North Star. That’s about equal to the width of three fists held at arm’s length and stacked on top of each other.

This skychart shows the constellation Camelopardis - the radiant of the new meteor shower as seen in the northern hemisphere in the predawn hours of May 24, 2014. Credit: SkySafari.A.Fazekas
This sky chart shows the constellation Camelopardis, the radiant of the new meteor shower as seen in the Northern Hemisphere in the predawn hours of May 24, 2014. Credit: SkySafari/A. Fazekas

The absolute peak of the shower—when Earth is predicted to make its way through the thickest part of the debris stream—is expected to arrive between 6 and 8 a.m. Universal Time, or 2 to 4 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on May 24.

North Americans are favored for the sky show because the peak time occurs during the darkest hours of nighttime, when the radiant is at its highest point in the sky. Look downstream of the radiant to catch sight of the meteors.

World map showing regions where meteor shower will be visible on May 24, 2014. Credit: NASA
World map showing regions where meteor shower will be visible on May 24, 2014. Credit: NASA

Since this is a new shower, predictions may be off by a few hours—and surprises may be in store. So the best bet is to plan on staying up overnight. Start brewing some hot chocolate and get those blankets ready. It’s going to be a long night!

And if you get clouded out then check out the shower through a live webcast thanks to a network of all-sky cameras set up by NASA and web-baed astronomy outreach comapny, Slooh.

Slooh will broadcast the comet event from its telescopes located off the west coast of Africa, at the Institute of Astrophyiscs of the Canary Islands, on May 23rd starting at 3 PM PDT / 6 PM EDT / 22 UTC – International Times – and then will follow up with live coverage of the new meteor shower starting at 8 PM PDT/ 11 PM EDT/ 03 UTC (5/24) – International Times.

Viewers can ask questions during the comet show by using hashtag #slooh.

Comet Broadcast: Starts 6 pm EDT


Meteor shower broadcast: starts 11 pm EDT


Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on TwitterFacebook, and his website.


Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Ed

    If the comet has been in its orbit for hundreds of years, why is this the first time we will have a meteor shower from it?

  • jana

    If my theory proves true, a partical will cause a nuclear spill when it hits earth during 6 to 8am during the showers peak. High levels of mercury poisoning are already rising cus we are putting harmful vapors in the air that are not at levels high enough to sustain plant life. Coal can be used to cultivate mercury and weed growth where extraction through combustion

  • Bill

    Because of our current location in the galaxy. Even though we complete a revolution around the sun in a year, our solar system, the milky way, is also moving in a great rotation within the galaxy.

  • Jared

    Ed: If you look at the graphic shown early in the article, the one showing the orbits of the inner 5 planets. You see the elliptical orbit? The one that meets Earth’s orbit where the blue arrow is? That’s the orbit this comet takes around the sun. But those orbits in the picture move three dimensionally, that’s why we haven’t past this cloud in the past 200 years. Orbits aren’t held at a constant angle relative to the sun.

  • shi peng

    will the meteor shower appear at south east Asia

    • Unfortunately the time of the predicted short peak for this shower occurs when it is nighttime in North America. But since predictions are wrong sometime – it might be worth looking up in the sky on your late Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Because of the predicted timing of the peak of this new shower, North Americans are favored. Latest predictions point to a specific peak time of 2:30 to 3:30 am Eastern Daylight Time on May 24, Saturday morning. That means around midnight for folks on the Pacific Coast. If conditions are right sky-watchers may see may as much as a two shooting stars every minute during that time. There is also a super-optimistic outside chance that as many as 1000 meteors per hour may fall. Remember to head out to a dark sky location away from city lights to get to see all the meteors – even the faint ones.

    Models also show there may be plenty of fireballs associated with this debris stream too. So if you live in North America it will definitely be worth staying up late for this sky event. Let’s just cross our fingers that predictions hold true.

  • vishal

    I’m excited but I don’t think it’ll appear in India. I really wanna see meteor shower. Any chances??

  • Mlentz

    Because this is the first time, the earth is passing through its debris field.

  • josh

    this is stupid

  • David

    Will it appear on our country? Philippines?

  • pwi

    as is the situation for the southern hemisphere? we may see hundreds of stars? or only see a few?

  • Heiko

    Any chance that the meteor shower will be seeable in Germany?

  • Ricky Dewet

    I don’t think it would be visible to south africa? And what chances is there if this fireballs fall on earth?

  • Mark

    And Southern Africa?

  • Edmar Augusto Gomes

    Will it be visible from the south hemisphere?

  • saba

    I would like to know if the meteor shower can be seen from London (UK).

  • ghass

    is it possible to see it in the midel east ? and at what local time ? syria exclusive ?

  • Shalby

    Will it appear in Egypt ?

  • jasmin syedda

    Will I be able to see it? I hope I can! U.S

  • Noussayba

    is it possible to see it in the north africa ?

  • Елена

    Can I watch it in Siberia, Omsk, without special equipment?

  • jenny Murdoch

    is there a possibility the shower could hit satellites?

  • Arl San

    Any star/meteor gazing parties (amateur astronomers) this Saturday night in the Inland Empire – Riverside, California.

    Thanks for the info and instruction!

  • zahid

    at what time will be the shower seem from north-east india

  • Suhan Butt

    Can I see Meteor Shower From Pakistan ???
    Plz Do Tell Me

  • Shubin Ramdeep

    To all the non-Americans asking if they will see the shower, the answer is NO. This is an American meteor shower — created by God for Americans only. If Canadians or Mexicans try to take a sneak peek, we may have to raise tariffs on their exports.

  • Adil Adil

    I see it in merzouga sahara in morrocco tat was fest time in life wow

  • nizar

    How in Indonesia, does it (the even) would occur ?

  • Selena

    Based on predictions, North America is “favored” for the show. But since this is a new shower/storm and predictions don’t always pan out, countries outside the US should definitely take a peek at their skies. You may see nothing, two or three bright shooting stars or you may turn out to be the favored country and see hundreds. Going by their models, we should be in the debris field for at least 24 hours, allowing meteors to fall in many different places. So everyone has a chance, albeit a small one, to witness this beautiful cosmic event. But remember, this shower could be a dud for everyone. I’m located in the spot considered “best” for optimal viewing of the peak and I’m not getting my hopes up. Good luck!

  • jesus

    I can’t wait to see it

  • Daniel

    Also, it will be possible to see a satellite shower too. I wonder how they can predict a fatal collision in order to protect the ISS and its crew members. ……. remember movie Gravity…..mmm

  • Kalhan Kuchroo

    Will India be able to see it?
    If yes then at what time?
    Will the shower cause any damage?

  • Sohini Bose

    Hi I saw a shooting star just an hour back at around 1 am IST in the south-western sky. Is it a part of this meteor shower or is it some random shooting star ?

  • jamie hoy

    What time in ohio?

  • Stewart

    I would like to go to Observatory of only 8 official “International Dark Sky” parks in North America..but it closes at 11pm. Anybody know of a good location that is accessible all night long?

  • Ann Marie

    I will admit that I did laugh at Shubin Ramdeep’s (if that is his real name??) comment above. I took my daughter and one of her friends to a park that is far away from the city lights to see the Perisades one year. We each saw one comet .People who stayed In New Castle saw hundreds of them I may take to the park again this year. It was like party with so many carloads of people up there.


    Will see it from my toilet?

  • Ed

    Jared: I understand the 3-D aspect… But given your explanation, why do we have the regular annual meteor showers, like the one every year from Haley’s comet?

  • bobisawsome

    lol guys your hilarious

  • Lloyd

    Not very happy to be missing a sight such as this tomorrow. Thank you internet.

  • Lloyd

    Not very happy to be missing a sight such as this tomorrow.

  • Bryan

    The meteor shower will occur from 2 to 4 a.m. Eastern time. If Billy lives in Ohio, and Ohio is in the Eastern time zone, when should Billy……..ohhhhh poor Billy.

  • Marilyn olmstead

    Orlando be available to see it. What time?

  • malachai

    What if it does hit a satellite? And why cant you predict the time i have been up for hours!!??

  • malachai

    someone resond!!!

  • Niklas Chappell

    Wife and I went to view it from 3:00 A.M. – 4:00 over Grand Traverse Bay and did not see anything but lots of stars. Meteor shower here a dud!! …..disappointed …….

  • Dwayne LaGrou

    Well, I stayed up until about 4:30am and only saw about twelve! I would say that this was a minor meteor shower.
    I did see about 30 to 40 Satelites orbiting the Earth though. And some of them were tumbling! I could tell they were tumbling from the reflection from the sun. It would get very bright and then get very dim, Over and over. Most of them were on a north to south orientation. VERY COOL !!!

  • Bill Edmonds-Bayliss

    Well perfect clear skies. Only saw a few fizzlers. If you blinked you would of missed them, although about 3AM one large one shot right across the Big Dipper and that’s when I packed it in. Too much hype.

  • Selena

    Actually the “3d orbit” explanation for getting this meteor shower once is BS and I wonder where he got that rubbish. Ed, your question was valid and your response more so. Nice 🙂
    The Camelopardalids was a “gift from Jupiter”. Normally the trail from comet 209P/LINEAR is not close enough for us to swing through. But because of the orbit of Jupiter and it’s gravitational tug, the debris field was pulled into our path. It probably won’t happen again. Even though it wasn’t what was predicted and hoped for, I witnessed around 40 meteors and was not disappointed. Hope others were as lucky!

  • Gail Robinson

    From 2:30 to 4:20 my husband saw one, I counted 3. Not many but still enjoyable. Great show of the night sky.

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