New Meteor Shower Possible for Earth - including Oregon, Coast, Portland
(Portland, Oregon) – Memorial Weekend could start off with quite the bang in the skies over Portland, Oregon and the coast. A never-before-seen meteor shower may be a monster one, say scientists, as Earth will be passing through a large cloud of debris from comet 209P/LINEAR on May 23 and 24.
Jim Todd, planetarium manager at Portland’s OMSI, said meteor rates could exceed 200 per hour, and some forecasters have even mentioned the possibility of a meteor storm.
It's called the Camelopardalid meteor shower - also referred to as “209P-IDS.” Todd said the shower will be peaking from late Friday, May 23 through the early morning of the next day. Midnight to 2 a.m. is forecasted to be the biggest part of the show.
Comet 209P/LINEAR shows up periodically and was discovered in 2004.
“If you're viewing from the city, try to observe where artificial lights obstruct the least,” Toidd said. “Meteor watching is basically an unaided-eye event but binoculars are handy for watching trails (persistent trains) that may hang in the sky for one or more seconds after a meteor's passage. Luckily, the waning crescent moon will be a nonfactor for the viewing.”
How will this be viewable from Portland or the Oregon coast? Hard to say exactly how amenable conditions will be that far out. However, while extended weather reports from the National Weather Service only go so far, the agency is predicting sunny and clear weather for that Thursday – the day before May 23.
The 209P-IDS meteors will appear to radiate near the constellation Camelopardalis and 10 degrees from Polaris. The radiant will be visible all night, but Todd suggested to not concentrate just on that one area. Insead, let your gaze wander over a large portion of the northern sky. Meteors that appear near the radiant will have short paths while those that begin farther out have much longer ones.
Todd said best locations for Portland viewers are L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, Milo McIver State Park, east side of the Cascades, North Plains, and east of Sandy.
Along the Oregon coast it will be easy to find dark areas for viewing. Suggested spots are high vantage points – like the overlooks at Manzanita, Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay, overlooks between Cape Perpetua and Yachats, the pullouts just south of Cannon Beach, several clifftops viewpoints in Lincoln City and various stops along the Three Capes Loop. See the virtual tours at right for details on these places.
Cannon Beach area
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