Skywatchers living in southern Canada could catch a glimpse of a never-before-seen meteor shower late Friday and early Saturday, but it's possible they won't see very much at all.
NASA is nevertheless informing the public about the "May Camelopardalids," a shower that could result from Earth moving through debris that was ejected from Comet 209P/LINEAR in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, said a news release.
Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Center are "reasonably sure" that the meteor shower will be active between 10:30 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, peaking between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET.
And that may be the only certainty associated with this event. Scientists don't know the rate at which meteors will travel per hour, and there are few existing observations that match this shower. Researchers are also unsure of how active the comet has been in the past, NASA said.
If there is a show, the best place to watch will be in Canada's southern regions. NASA has provided a diagram showing where the shower may be visible around the world.
The event is named after the Camelopardalis constellation, where the shower is expected to radiate from.
Comet 209P/LINEAR also presents some uncertainty. Recent data around the comet suggests that it's not releasing much dust or gas.
But scientists also say that there's no data to inform them about how active it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it's believed the comet's debris trails were created.
If the comet wasn't active in those centuries, it's unlikely skywatchers will see anything; but if it was, there could be one heck of a show this weekend.
SETI Institute research scientist Peter Jenniskens said that, because of the uncertainty surrounding the shower, people should keep their expectations low, CBC News reported.
"On the other hand," he told the network, "It's something you don't want to miss."
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