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May 23 2014 7:30 AM


Orion Leonid
Keep watching the skies!

Photo by Randy Halverson, used by permission

Just a quick reminder that tonight is the (maybe) big Camelopardalids meteor shower. I wrote an earlier post on what you need to know to observe it.

I had some folks wondering how to pronounce the name of the shower, which comes from the constellation Camelopardalis, the giraffe (the meteors will appear to radiate away from a point in the sky in that constellation). I created a Vine video with some friends to help:


Click the speaker icon to get sound, and click the video to make it stop, if you want to break my heart.

Paleolithic archaeologist Marco Langbroek pointed out to me that if you want to stick with the truest Latin pronunciation, the stress would be on the DAL part of Camelopardalids, not stressing both the CAM and the DAL as I did in the video.

He's right, so I made a follow-up video with this second pronunciation.

I've heard both ways used, not that that makes both ways right. Astronomers mispronounce things all the time; watch them argue over Eros or Betelgeuse or Vega or even Sol. In my opinion, languages are fluid, so it's no big deal. Of course, it's also my opinion that I'm right both ways. Your kilometerage may vary.

So, whatever. I hope you have clear skies tonight, and get a chance to see the meteor shower ...  however you say it.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  



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