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Camelopardalids meteor shower

Update: This event has passed

In 2014, the Camelopardalids meteor shower associated with Comet 209P/LINEAR is expected to peak during the night of May 23-24, 2014. A waning crescent Moon will create good conditions for viewers to observe the shower.

Illustration image
Camelopardalids will occur in May 2014.
Camelopardalis is a lesser known northern constellation. It is the radiant of meteor shower associated with Comet 209P/LINEAR.

Astronomers around the world are expecting to add a new meteor shower to the lineup of meteor showers for 2014. This new meteor shower will be the result of a periodic comet called Comet 209P/Linear. The shower is expected to peak between the night of May 23-24, 2014.

What are comets?

Comet 209P/LINEAR

Comet 209P/LINEAR was discovered in 2004 by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), an automated detection system. The comet is a short period comet in that it takes approximately 5 years to make one orbit around the Sun. In 2014, the comet will reach its perihelion - the point it will be closest to the Sun – on May 6, 2014 . Five years later, the comet’s perihelion will fall on May 21, 2019.

In of itself the comet is one of the many that will pass by the Sun this year, but 209P/LINEAR is a special comet because the debris left by its tail is expected to create a new meteor shower in the month of May.

Camelopardalids meteor shower

Astronomers predict that on May 24, 2014, the Earth will pass through the comet’s dust trail. Some of the debris created by the tail will enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, creating a meteor shower.

What is a meteor shower?

Initial predictions suggested that at its peak the shower will net around 400 meteors an hour, prompting astronomers to call it a meteor storm. Recent studies however, has downgraded these predictions to about 200 meteors an hour.

When to view the Camelopardalids

The meteor shower associated with Comet 209P/LINEAR is expected to peak on the night between May 23–24, 2014. Astronomers predict that the shower will peak between 6:00 AM (06:00) and 8:00 AM (08:00) UTC.

Where to view the Camelopardalids

The radiant of the shower – the point in the sky where meteors seem to come from – will be the constellation Camelopardis, a northern constellation. Northern Hemisphere viewers are therefore the best situated to view the shower.

Astronomers predict that people in the United States and southern Canada will have the best view of the meteor shower. People in the U.K. and in Europe may be able to catch some of the shower during the dawn hours of May 24, 2014.

While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lay down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – we suggest lying down on the ground looking towards the North and look at the sky above you to view the shower.

Location in the sky

The Camelopardalids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around May 24, 2015, table below is for that date:
Camelopardalids meteor shower for New York (Night between May 24 and May 25)
TimeAzimuth/DirectionAltitude
Sun 9:00 PM346°North-northwest45.2°
Sun 10:00 PM345°North-northwest42.4°
Sun 11:00 PM346°North-northwest39.5°
Midnight Sun-Mon347°North-northwest36.8°
Mon 1:00 AM349°North-northwest34.4°
Mon 2:00 AM351°North32.4°
Mon 3:00 AM354°North30.9°
Mon 4:00 AM357°North30.0°
Note: times are for May 24, 2015.
Set your location

How to view the Camelopardalids

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the meteor shower:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Did you know…

…that astronomers predict that many of the meteors that will be seen during the shower belong to the dust trails created when the comet came close to the Sun between 1898 – 1919?

Topics: Astronomy, Meteors, Moon, Comets

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