A new meteor shower sparked some celestial fireworks late Friday and early Saturday, amazing stargazers across North America even though it did not reach the spectacular “Meteor storm” levels that some had hoped for.
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. Photos of the new meteor shower sent in to Space.com show amazing views of meteors over Toronto, Indiana and even through the northern lights of Canada.
Early forecasts from NASA, SETI and other meteor tracking groups said the shower had the potential to be truly dazzling, with a forecast of 200 meteors per hour. Astronomer Tony Phillips of the skywatching website Spaceweather.com reported Saturday that the new shower peaked at between five and 10 meteors per hour. The Camelopardalid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation it appears to radiate from – Camelopardalis – and was primarily visible from North America.
A team of astronomers led by meteor scientist Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Calfornia aimed to observe the meteor shower from above the clouds by flying at 20,000 feet aboard a specially chartered jet.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall center in Huntsville, Alabama, said his team captured a stunning video of a Camelopardalid meteor as bright as Jupiter during the night.