[meteorite-list] A New Meteor Shower in May?
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 7 May 2014 15:37:18 -0700 (PDT)
A New Meteor Shower in May?
NASA Science News
May 6, 2014: The head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, Dr. Bill
Cooke, often lets cameras do his sky watching for him. He and his
colleagues operate a nationwide network of automated fireball
observatories that capture anything that burns into Earth's atmosphere.
On the morning of May 24^th , however, he plans to go out in person.
"There could be a new meteor shower, and I want to see it with my own
eyes," says Cooke.
The shower is the May Camelopardalids, caused by dust from periodic
comet 209P/LINEAR. No one has ever seen it before, but this year the
Camelopardalids could put on a display that rivals the well-known
Perseids of August.
"Some forecasters have predicted more than 200 meteors per hour," says
Comet 209P/LINEAR was discovered in February 2004 by the Lincoln
Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, a cooperative effort of NASA, the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, and the US Air
Force. It is a relatively dim comet that dips inside the orbit of Earth
once every five years as it loops around the sun.
Two years ago, meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter
Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center announced that Earth was due for
an encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Streams of dust
ejected by the comet mainly back in the 1800s would cross Earth's orbit
on May 24, 2014. The result, they said, could be a significant meteor
Other experts agreed, in part. There is a broad consensus among
forecasters that Earth will indeed pass through the debris streams on
May 24th . However, no one is sure /how much/ debris is waiting. It
all depends on how active the comet was more a century ago when the
debris streams were laid down.
"We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s," says Cooke. As
a result of the uncertainty, "there could be a great meteor shower - or a
The best time to look is during the hours between 6:00 and 08:00
Universal Time on May 24^th or between 2 and 4 o'clock in the morning
Eastern Daylight Time. That's when an ensemble of forecast models say
Earth is most likely to encounter the comet's debris. North Americans
are favored because, for them, the peak occurs during nighttime hours
while the radiant is high in the sky.
"We expect these meteors to radiate from a point in Camelopardalis, also
known as 'the giraffe', a faint constellation near the North Star," he
continues. "It will be up all night long for anyone who wishes to watch
throughout the night."
Indeed, that might be a good idea. Because this is a new meteor shower,
surprises are possible. Outbursts could occur hours before or after the
In case of a dud, there is a consolation prize. On May 24^th the
crescent Moon and Venus are converging for a tight conjunction the next
morning, May 25^th . Look for them rising together just ahead of the sun
in the eastern sky at dawn.
"That's a nice way to start the day," says Cooke, "meteors or not."
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips
Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips
Credit: Science at NASA
Received on Wed 07 May 2014 06:37:18 PM PDT