It's like a blind date.
"You never know what to expect from a meteor shower until you get there," said Bill Kreiger, professor of earth sciences and science education at York College.
But scientists know this one will be rare.
The Camelopardalids meteor shower will be the first of its kind when Earth runs into debris from a comet this weekend.
"It could be spectacular with hundreds of meteors per hour," Kreiger said.
Peak viewing time will be 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday.
"This is not one to miss. A meteor shower could become a meteor storm," he said.
Meteor showers happen when Earth rotates through chunks of rock and other debris left in space by a comet. The rock and debris burn up in the atmosphere to become what looks like shooting stars.
This weekend will be the first time Earth moves through materials from Comet 209P/LINEAR, which will produce the meteor shower named for the Camelopardalids constellation. The Camelopardalids, also called "the giraffe," is near the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, Kreiger said.
"I'll be watching for meteors that look like stones skipping across the water. Some come and go, and some blow up in the night sky like fireworks," he said.
Where to watch: Viewing events are being planned throughout York County.
The York County Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a meteor shower boat ride from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Saturday at the Lake Redman activity area at William Kain County Park. Stargazers may use their own boat or a county-owned canoe, kayak, pedal boat or rowboat.
The cost is $30 per couple to use a county boat or $20 per couple with a private boat. Each additional participant costs $5.
Registration is required and can be completed by calling 840-7440.
The York County Astronomical Society is offering free meteor-watch sessions from 11 p.m. Friday to 4:30 a.m. Saturday at its John C. Rudy County Park observatory.
"All you need is a clear, dark sky away from bright lights. Relax in a lay-back lawn chair or blanket, and face east," said Greg Markowski, vice president of the York County Astronomical Society.
Astronomers believe there is a good chance of a meteor "outburst," producing as many as 400 meteors per hour, he said.
"They will strike Earth's atmosphere at about 36,000 miles per hour, which is very slow for meteors, resulting in bright, colorful and long trails," Markowski said. "Also, the thin, waning crescent moon will not interfere with viewing, giving Pennsylvania front-row seats to the show."
— Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.