|In the lower right half of the image you can see the shape|
of a giraffe and the location of the Camelopardalids meteor
shower tonight. Courtesy Science@NASA.
|Plot of the Earth's path through the meteor shower|
by Jeremie Vaubaillon.
Comet 209P/LINEAR was discovered on Feb. 3, 2004, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) research project. It orbits around the sun with a period of roughly 5 years, with an aphelion out near Jupiter's orbit. As a result, calculations show that its orbit has been perturbed by the gravitational pull of Jupiter over the past few centuries, at least as far back as 1798. Most particles in the shower are smaller than a grain of sand and burn up high in the atmosphere.
Scientists are being cautious, predicting a few hundred meteors per hour to be on the safe side, but almost all of them express hope for the storm-level of 1000 per hour. Comet 209P/LINEAR is a small comet, and has in recent passes near the earth, a fairly low dust production. Observers in the United States and southern Canada are in the best position to see the shower. The moon is a waning crescent, just four days from the dark new phase and will not be a hindrance.
Fred Whipple first developed the idea that comets were "dirty snowballs" orbiting the sun.The meteoroids are formed when a comet passes by the sun and some of the ice (water, methane, ammonia or other volatiles) sublimates, releasing the small silicate particles bound in it. The meteoroids spread out around the comet, eventually, after many passes by the sun, filling in the entire orbit.
Here is a link to Mikhail Maslov's website on the 2014 meteor shower, and here is a post by Robert Lunsford.