A comet discovered in 2004 will make a close approach this Friday resulting in what could be a spectacular meteor shower and possibly, though not likely, a meteor storm.
Discovered in 2004, though images had been captured in late 2003, the faint Comet 209P/LINEAR will fly close by the Earth but not enough to be considered dangerous.
You can't see the comet with the naked eye, but it's the associated meteor shower, known as the Carmelopardalis meteor shower, which is causing meteor exports to get excited.
It's called the Carmelopardalis because the meteor shower will be visible in the little known northern Carmelopardalis constellation.
The meteor shower will be best in the evening of Friday, May 23rd with the peak expected after midnight between 2-4 a.m. EDT and is best seen in North America according to Associate Professor Paul Wiegert of Western University's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) .
He explained that a good meteor shower like the annual Perseid meteor shower in August can have over 100 meteors in an hour. A meteor storm would have to have over 1,000 an hour to be classified as such.
He said that even the meteor experts can't agree amongst themselves how spectacular the shower will be but that they seem to agree it will be at least Perseid quality.
What is known, is that if you have clear skies and are in a location to see the meteor shower, you probably won't be disappointed and could witness something truly rare and spectacular.
Comet 209P/LINEAR Earth Flyby Simulation
The particles being released by the comet are colour-coded. Red is a radius less than 2micrometers, yellow is 2-200 micrometers, green is 200-2000 (or 0.2 to 2 millimeters) and blue is everything bigger than 2mm.