Parties held in Utah to view meteor shower

Posted at 9:54 PM, May 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-23 23:57:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a meteor shower 200 years in the making. The cosmic fireworks will kick off around midnight and Utahns are already getting ready for the once in a lifetime show--but the weather could be problematic.

Mother Nature could make or break this. If you look to the northern skies, you should be able to see the meteor shower, but no one knows what it will look like, but it's expected to be magical.

For the first time in history, the Earth will be passing through space dust that's been accumulating for hundreds of years. The small particles were created from a trail of the 209P Linear Comet.

"What happens is the meteor showers are the product of comets, as they go around the sun they leave a trail of dust behind," said Carl Hergenrather of NASA.

It's an atmospheric storm that could produce up to 1,000 meteors an hour.

"The constellation is the camel or the giraffe, and the Latin name is camelopardalis," said Dave Bernson, an Observatory Instructor for the Salt Lake Astronomical Society.

"The nice thing about watching meteor showers is you need nothing special. All you need is your eyeballs," Hergenrather said.

Since the cosmic creation has never happened before, no one, not even NASA, has a clue what it will look like. Expect to see a spectacular sky show or nothing at all.

"I'm hoping that it will really happen because it might be a lot of meteors, a meteor storm or shower; that looks really cool," said Nate Goodman, who went to Wheeler Farm for a watch party Friday night.

It's the mysterious unknown that attracted Utahns to Wheeler Farm. They're hoping to get a glimpse of something magical.

"I've seen a few things in my life I consider overwhelmingly beautiful,” Bernson said. “I've traveled to see seven eclipses of the sun, including four total eclipses and to me they are just fall down amazingly beautiful and one of the few things I would rate with those was my experience with the 2001 meteor shower.”

If you position yourself for the best view, get a lounge chair and face north. Find the big and little dippers and just look up to the skies. The height of the meteor shower is expected to happen sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.

Even though no one has ever witnessed this before, and nobody knows what to expect, even if the shower is mind blowing, astronomers said there is absolutely no danger because the meteors you will be seeing are the size of grains of sand.