Watch Spectacular Meteor Shower Tonight: Live NASA Chat Details
Stargazers may get a glimpse of the very rare meteor shower, called the Gamma Delphinids, which is set to take place at 4:30 a.m. EDT today. Spectators in North and South America, including Hawaii, will be in a good position to see the outburst.
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.
"Starting at 9:15 p.m. EST, they started seeing meteors pouring out of the small constellation Delphinus (the dolphin). The meteors had short trails and brief duration and were yellowish white," says Peter Jenniskens, co-author of a 2003 study that predicted a new outburst might take place this year.
"In total the observers [in 1930] saw 51 [meteors] in the next half hour and after that, it was all over," says Jenniskens, an astronomer at the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. From 11 p.m. - 3 a.m. EDT, Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office will host a live chat on NASA's website with a live Ustream telescope view of the skies over Huntsville, Ala.
According to the Robert Lumsford of the AMS, meteor watchers should seek out the darkest skies possible, where the horizon is devoid of trees and hills. However, he cautions enthusiasts not to get their hopes up too high.
"No one knows the strength of this display, or whether it will occur at all," Lumsford said in an AMS preview of the event.
If you planning to watch the mysterious meteor shower, Lumsford advises sky watchers to begin their viewing session at least two hours before the expected maximum, just in case the meteor shower arrives early.