Did you hear about the meteor shower tonight? Since it's a brand new event born from a comet discovered ten years ago, it could be a dud or the most spectacular thing we've seen in our lifetime. But who will actually have a chance to look for it?
The meteor shower, called the Camelopardalis after the constellation from which the shower will radiate, is expected to occur overnight tonight and into early tomorrow morning. The peak will occur between 2AM and 4AM Eastern time, according to the Chicago Tribune, and in the best case scenario we could see hundreds of meteors per hour. The meteors will be (relatively) slow-moving, so they'll appear in the sky for a longer time and leave brighter, more visible streaks behind them.
Of course, there's one big factor that could kill even the most intense meteor shower: clouds.
The above visible satellite image was taken around 12:15 PM Eastern time, showing the actual extent of the cloudcover across the country.
The North American Model (NAM) has a product that shows us the total amount of cloudcover it expects at three-hour intervals. It's important to keep in mind that this is a low resolution product, and that the actual extent of the cloudcover will look more broken, much like the satellite image I've posted above.
The NAM is predicting quite a few areas socked in by clouds across the United States during the peak of the meteor shower, starting at 2AM Eastern.
And here's the prediction for an hour after the peak ends, around 5AM Eastern.
Again, not all of those areas will see completely (or even mostly) cloudy skies, but it gives you an idea of what one weather model thinks the sky will look like early tomorrow morning.
The best way to tell if clouds will obstruct your view of the shower is to go outside and look up, of course, but hopefully this will help temper your expectations and lessen the blow of disappointment if you live in one of the places that will get clouds that make you miss potentially the most spectacular natural event anyone alive has ever witnessed.
[Images via AP and College of DuPage]