Stargazers in North America may be able to see a Giraffe meteor shower sweep through the sky early Saturday morning before the sun rises.
While many meteor showers offer an amazing light show, the unique name for this particular display may have some of us non-astronomers envisioning a mammalian megastorm.
Let us explain.
A comet named 209P/LINEAR is expected to approach Earth on May 29 and pass by the planet within a mere 5 million miles. That’s the closest a comet has come to us since the IRAS-Araki-Alcock passed in 1983, the CBC reports. But about five days before the comet’s closest approach, the Earth will pass through its orbit, and a major meteor shower is predicted between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. eastern standard time, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
Meteors passing by are fairly common, occurring as often as every night. But they are typically very faint and it takes a long, hard look to see them in our skies.
The display expected this weekend is unique because it’s what astronomers consider a “storm.” That is, a supersized display of stars shooting through the sky, which is not as common as a few meteors passing by.
But what about the Giraffe?
The Christian Science Monitor reports:
The radiant for this shower will be in the dim and little-known constellation of Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. This is about halfway between Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and Cassiopeia, right under Polaris, the Pole Star.
Does Camelopardalis sound familiar to you? It’s also the name of a beer that debuted in March by the brewing company Weyerbacher.
It’s unclear whether the company is aware of the approaching comet and the impending meteor shower.
There’s never a guarantee the shower will occur or that we’ll be able to see it. But some scientists say this time there’s a pretty good chance.
“There have been predictions from we won’t see anything through to a meteor storm of more than 1,000 meteors per hour,” Paul Wiegert, an associate professor with Western University’s Meteor Physics Group in Ontario told the CBC.
“We expect it to be a very, very nice display,” Wiegert said.