Meteor Storm Disappoints But Stargazers To Be Rewarded With A Comet Fly–by
A meteor storm that was being eagerly anticipated by storm gazers turned out to be a lot less than spectacular for excited stargazers.
Stargazers across North America had been spending sleepless nights gazing at the night sky to get more than a glimpse of ‘spectacular’ meteor storm that was promised to them. However, they were left a little disappointed when it did not reach the spectacular “meteor storm” levels that many had hoped for.
Early forecasts from NASA, SETI and other meteor tracking groups said the shower had the potential to be a truly dazzling meteor storm, with a forecast of almost 200 meteors per hour. With such a high density, the night sky was expected to be brilliantly streaked and lit–up as meteor fragments burnt in the upper atmosphere. As is customary though, scientists also stressed that, because of the unknown nature of the meteor shower, it could fizzle out and that is unfortunately what happened, reported CNN.
The first-ever Camelopardalid meteor shower peaked in the wee hours of Saturday, offering stargazers a rare sight — the debut meteor display from the dusty Comet 209P/LINEAR. Residents of Toronto and Indiana were treated to a spectacle of lights, despite the overwhelming presence of northern lights of Canada, reported Peninsula Daily News.
However, there is salvation still. There will be an Act II, an even bigger treat, as the last part of the shower. A comet is expected to pass by Earth. The fly-by has already begun. The debris field that is expected to light–up the night sky is the same 209P/LINEAR that was to offer brilliant displays.
Stargazers owe the comet fly–by to Jupiter, our largest celestial planet in the solar system. Owing to its immense gravitational pull, the 209P/LINEAR which has an elliptical orbit, passes by every 5 years. This year is especially important as the comet will make it closest appearance to earth, said NASA meteor observer Bill Cooke, “Jupiter will fling the comet our way, too, causing it to fly by our planet at a distance of 5 million miles. A comfortable distance, which is good. Its core is 1 to 2 miles wide, and a direct hit to Earth would be disastrous. The comet normally doesn’t pass this close.”
Ironically, this time around the debris has preceded the comet. Typically, debris fields follow comets just like their tails do. However, owing to Jupiter, earthlings have managed to see this anomaly.
[Image Credit | CNN]