Meteor shower visible this weekend in northern Columbia sky

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | 4:21 p.m. CDT; updated 5:10 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 22, 2014

COLUMBIA — Break out your lawn chairs, grab a friend and hope for good weather. Early Saturday morning might be a great time to catch a glimpse of a shooting star.

A meteor shower resulting from the trail of debris left behind by a comet called 209P/LINEAR will be visible in the sky starting around midnight Friday, said Val Germann of the Central Missouri Astronomical Association.

The Earth will pass right through the center of the comet's orbit, which should create a large number of meteors, Germann said. He said experts expect several meteors a minute at the peak of the shower.

The ideal time to see the shower should be between 1 and 2 a.m. Saturday, he said.

"From our location, we'll be like the hood of a car going through a snowstorm," Germann said. "It will be worthwhile."

The meteor shower can be seen radiating from just below Polaris, also known as the North Star, Germann said. 

"What's interesting is this is not an annual event," Germann said. "It's going to be a one-time, big shower."

Although Columbia viewers will have a great location to view meteors Saturday, it all depends on the weather, Germann said. Columbia is expected to see cloudy and rainy weather during the shower's peak hours.

Germann offered tips for people who plan to watch the show:

  • Look north: The meteors will be falling from the northern sky. All you need to do is look up and toward the North Star.
  • Don’t bother with fancy equipment: The meteors can be seen with the naked eye. Neither a telescope nor a pair of binoculars is necessary.
  • Avoid artificial light: Get away from the city and bright lights, and head north of Columbia for the best view.

Supervising editor is Joe Guszkowski.

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