A new meteor shower is on tap for the continental United States as the Earth passes through an old debris field left behind in the 1700’s by Comet 209P/LINEAR. Comet 209P/LINEAR is a short term periodic comet that orbits roughly every five years between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter. Comet 209P/LINEAR is usually a small dim comet that isn’t spectacular as other comets such as Hale-Bopp and Halley, yet it lays down the essential ingredients for a meteor shower like most other comets. Because of it’s orbit the Earth usually does not pass through the debris field it leaves behind to produce a meteor shower. According to astrophysicists Jupiter’s gravitational field has pushed the debris field left behind in the 1700’s so the Earth will be passing directly through it.
This gives an opportunity for those of Earth to be treated to a meteor shower that has never been witnessed in modern times. Other periodic meteor showers such as the Leonids and Geminids that can be observed from year to year tend to be predictable and average, but the debris field left behind by comet 209P/LINEAR has scientists guessing and we could be in for a spectacular show. Predictions are ranging anywhere from 200 to 1000 meteors per hour depending on which scientist you ask.
Some astrophysicists are pointing out that the debris particles left behind by comet 209P/LINEAR won’t be crashing into the Earth’s atmosphere as quickly as other comets’ debris. This will result in meteors that will light up the sky a little longer and produce longer streaks.
Tickets for this show tonight are free and courtesy of our Creator. No artificial fireworks needed.
“A brand new meteor shower could light up the pre-dawn sky on May 24, perhaps firing off hundreds of “shooting stars.””