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2014 May 24 Camelopardalids?

Activity dates:              May 24 only

Moonlight issues:         Minor - Moon is thin 22% crescent in Pisces

Best Observed rates:   Pre-dawn (UK & Europe), 06h-08h UT (N America)

This meteor shower hasn't been observed before. The predictions of strong activity in 2014 are purely based on the close approach by the Earth to meteor trails that may have been left behind the the parent comet 209P/LINEAR in the past.

Over the years, there have been many failed attempts to predict meteor activity following the passage of bright long period comets. However 209P/LINEAR is a short period comet (period=5.09 years, perihelion 2014 May 6) and this ought to increase the chances of activity.

209P/LINEAR is not an impressive comet. It was originally discovered in 2004 as an asteroidal object and was only later noted to show some comet-like activity. This limited recent activity, together with the lack of earlier observations of the comet (and hence uncertainty about the exact orbits of old meteor stream filaments), suggests limits on how much material may exist in these meteor stream filaments ... and hence suggests limits on possible meteor rates.

Nevertheless, several analysts have suggested a peak ZHR of 100 or more (and the media have picked up on speculation that there is a small chance of the ZHR briefly exceeding 1000 and thus qualifying as a meteor storm e.g "Super Meteor STORM coming soon!").

Compared with other meteors that may be seen, Camelopardalid meteors will be rather slow moving. There are also indications that the shower could be rich in bright meteors. 

The predictions indicate a narrow peak (or several close peaks) on the morning of May 24th at some time between 06h and 08h UT (7am to 9am BST) , with most favouring the early part of the second hour. This will be during the hours of daylight from the UK, but would be well timed for observers in the United States and southern Canada. Based on the narrowness of the peak, the ZHR seen pre-dawn by observers in western Europe would probably only be around 10.


The predicted radiant is at around RA 08h15m, Dec +79. This is in Camelopardalis and so will be in the northern sky - an area of sky that doesn't become fully dark at this time of the year for much of the UK. The radiant will be at around 40 deg altitude above the northern horizon as dawn approaches.  

Nevertheless, it may still be worthwhile for UK observers to monitor for possible pre-dawn activity on the morning of the 24th - just in case there are surprises.