Everything You Need to Know About the Holiday Weekend Meteor Shower

Posted on May 23, 2014

If you’ve ever wanted to wish upon a shooting star, you’ll have plenty of chances late tonight and into early Saturday morning.

An exquisite meteor shower dubbed the May Camelopardalid may put on a never-before-seen spectacle that has the potential to rival, or even exceed, the Perseid meteor shower of August.

Around 2 a.m. ET, Earth is expected to come into contact with multiple streams of debris ejected from the faint comet 209P/LINEAR, which crosses into Earth’s orbit around the sun approximately once every five years.

Meteor Shower Could Put on a Dazzling Show in the Sky

PHOTO: A perseid meteor streaks across a star-encrusted and cloud-scattered sky.

Jimmy Westlake/NASA
PHOTO: A perseid meteor streaks across a star-encrusted and cloud-scattered sky.

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Perseid Meteor Shower

Dr. James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA, said the best place for viewing the meteor shower is anywhere in North America with a clear sky.

At its peak, anywhere from 200 to 1,000 meteors are expected to shoot across the dark sky at speeds of 12 miles per second before burning up from contact with earth’s atmosphere, where they light up and then vaporize.

“That spontaneous heating and burning up produces light we can see, so it’s really a marvelous science experiment by mother nature,” Garvin said.

He predicted the light show could be one “of the best we’ve had for the past one hundred years.”

NASA recommends finding a safe, dark location to lay beneath the stars. Why not find a nice patch of grass, bring a blanket and whip out a midnight snack to make the most of the moment?

If bad weather is a problem or you’d rather stay indoors, check out NASA’s chat and live stream here.