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Exceptional Meteor Shower May Strike Tuesday, Has Not Been Seen in 80 Years

Jun 10, 2013 08:55 PM EDT
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An obscure meteor shower may put on a fine display in the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 11th.

(Photo : NASA)

A very rare and mysterious meteor shower, called the Gamma Delphinids, is expected to take place on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. The last time this meteor shower was seen was in the 1930's.

The long dormant meteor shower hasn't been particularly active in quite some time, but this year the prediction is that it may put on an incredible show - rivaling the best meteor showers of the year, such and the Perseids and Geminids.

If it appears, predictions are pegging the meteor shower to commence at 4:28 a.m. ET Tuesday and last for about half an hour, according to Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, who specialize in comets and meteor tracking. However, they are cautioning potential shower viewers to not get their hopes too high.

"No one knows the strength of this display, or whether it will occur at all," Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society says in his preview.

The ambiguity surrounding tomorrow's meteor shower is largely in part to a mystery that azeaxdzs dates back more than 80 years. On the evening of June 11, 1930 three members of the American Meteor Society (AMS) reported a bevy of meteor activity occurring between the hours of 10:15 and 10:45 p.m. local time in Maryland.

"In most other years, that stream of dust of a long-period comet just passes by the Earth's orbit, completely invisible and undetectable," says Jenniskens. "But the point where the trail passes through the orbital plane of Earth [can] move around, and sometimes that trail wanders in Earth's path. This year, it is predicted to do so again."

The Gamma Delphinids are named for the star Gamma Delphini - actually a binary system of two stars close together.

Meteors will suddenly start to appear out of the constellation of Delphinus, explains Jenniskens, with most being as bright as stars like Polaris, Deneb, and Vega; a few of the meteors will be faint.

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