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Meteor shower expected to dazzle Valley skywatchers

PHOENIX — Keep an eye to the sky this weekend as a dazzling meteor shower is expected to be overhead.

The Camelopardalis meteor shower is expected to be visible overnight Friday into early Saturday morning, said Carl Hergenrother, a science team member on the Osiris Rex Mission at the University of Arizona.

“What we know about this meteor shower is it’s the result of a comet that was only discovered about ten years ago,” he said.

The shower is caused by Earth passing through a trail of dust and gas left behind as comet 209P/Linear orbits between Jupiter and the Sun. Hergenrother said the comet completes its orbit about every five years, but passing through the wake of dust should create a burst of meteors this time.

“So instead of seeing maybe meteor a night from this particular meteor shower, which is what we saw in the past, there is the potential, not guaranteed, but there is the potential we may see a couple hundred per hour,” he said.

Hergenrother said no one is exactly sure what to expect, but the display could be quite spectacular because meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere should be traveling at a slower speed that most other showers, allowing the meteors to be visible for longer periods of time.

“In this case (the meteors) are almost 20 kilometers per second, which definitely sounds fast, but actually for a meteor shower that’s pretty low,” he said. “That’s one of the cool things I’m looking forward with this meteor shower.”

Hergenrother recommends watching from as dark a location as possible while sitting in a lawn or beach chair facing north, and said the best to watch is around midnight on Friday.