There is a chance of spotting shooting stars this weekend

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

Now, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up too much, but there's a chance we might...possibly... perhaps...if we're exceptionally lucky...see a lot of shooting stars in the early hours of Saturday morning (May 24). At that time Earth will be passing through a stream of dust left by a comet called Linear, and experts are predicting that there are patches of very dense dust lurking within that stream which could produce a surge of many hundreds of meteors. Some are even daring to suggest a ‘meteor storm’ - a display of thousands of shooting stars - might occur.

That's very unlikely, and the problem is the peak of any display, however good it is, won't be reached until after sunrise in the UK. But it might be worth keeping an eye on the sky after midnight if it's clear on Friday through to dawn on the Saturday, just in case. The peak might occur early, favouring us. Or early, bright ‘fireballs’ might crawl across the sky. We just don't know.

You will need to somewhere really dark and facing towards if you want to be prepared for anything unusual. And have binocs handy to zoom in on any ghostly smoke trails left behind by any bright meteors. Good luck!

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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