Never-Before-Seen Meteor Shower Expected Tonight (WATCH)

May 23, 2014 09:31 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro


A meteor shower is expected tonight that has never been seen before by humans, though there is a chance it may not happen at all.

The shower is tentatively scheduled to take place when Earth passes through a trail of dust left in the 1800s by a comet named 209P/LINEAR.

When the particles reach Earth's atmosphere, they will then vaporize and leave bright trails.

Since it has never happened before, astronomers can't guarantee it will actually happen, nor do they really know what to expect exactly.

If the comet did leave debris, we could see hundreds of meteors per hour. If it didn't leave any or not a lot, we could only see a couple of meteors, according to NASA.

The comet itself is so small and modest that it wasn't discovered by astronomers until 2004 by using a high-tech telescope capable of scanning the skies for space rocks. It will pass within five million miles of Earth.

The meteors will originate near the constellation Camelopardalis, which can be found by looking up near the North Star. They could show up in different parts of the sky as well.

Those who live in North America will most likely have the best view of the shower.

"We expect these meteors to radiate from a point in Camelopardalis, also known as 'the giraffe,' a faint constellation near the North Star," said to Bill Cooke, who heads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, according to CNN.

If the shower does happen, astronomers expect the show to begin sometime around 10:30 p.m., and peak between 2 and 4 a.m.

The meteors will travel at approximately 12 miles per second, though they will be very bright, which means you shouldn't need a telescope to see them.

Don't worry about anything falling to Earth, as the particles are sand-sized and will be vaporized before they reach our planet.

If you feel like staying up tonight but don't want to go outside, or the weather is bad in your neck of the woods, feel free to click the link below for a live stream of the show.

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