It's not often in a lifetime you get treated to a brand new meteor shower that no one has ever seen before, but that is the case Friday night with the (pardon me a moment while I go copy and paste this:) Camelopardalids Meteor Shower.
This meteor shower with likely the most complex name for journalists to type since that volcano erupted in Iceland four years ago, comes courtesy of Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered 10 years ago, according to NASA. But two years ago, it was discovered Earth would cross into the comet's dust paths leftover from the 1800s on Friday night.
Since it is the first encounter, astronomers aren't quite sure what kind of show we'll get, adding mystery and intrigue to the event. But NASA says there are signs it could rival the annual mid-August Perseid Meteor Shower which is usually our best meteor show of the year.
Some important questions you might be asking: "Why didn't they just name it the Jones Meteor Shower?" Meteor showers are named from the constellation they appear to originate from in our nighttime sky and this one happens to come from the Camelopardalids constellation. But if that name is too tall an order to pronounce (or type), the informal name for it is the Giraffe constellation.
What time? The show will be going here in the Pacific Time Zone pretty much from darkness Friday night to well past midnight Saturday morning with the peak hours from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. The Pacific Northwest is in the prime viewing spot on the planet as far as peak shower vs. time of night.
Where to look? Up. "Shooting Stars" should be visible at any point.
And of course the BIG question: "WILL IT BE CLEAR ENOUGH TO SEE IT?!?" For Western Washington...it's...not looking great. Models indicate mostly cloudy to overcast conditions Friday night, but we could see some breaks in the clouds to sneak a few peaks. If so, get away from city lights.
Prospects are much better in Central and Eastern Washington so if you want to make a nighttime drive to the other side of the Cascades, you could be rewarded with a great show, unless the show itself is a dud.
If you're socked in with clouds and don't want to drive 2 hours, you can watch a live NASA feed from Huntsville, Ala. at this link which will go live at 6:30 pm PDT.
NASA page on Camelopardalids Meteor Shower