Friday, May 23, 2014

New Meteor Shower Tonight!!!!!


The predicted visibility zone of the May Camelopardalid meteor shower Comet 209P/LINEAR at 06:00 UTC on May 24, 2014.

New Meteor Shower Friday Night: How to See It

Editor's Update (May 23): The live webcasts on for the new meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR can be found here: Watch Live: Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Webcasts
Meteor observation doesn't have to be rocket science: All you have to do is lie back in a comfortable place and look up at the sky with the naked eye. Every so often, a meteor will flit across the stars. You simply make a note on a clipboard or speak into a tape recorder.
On Friday night and early Saturday morning (May 23-24), Earth will plow through debris shed over the years by Comet 209P/LINEAR. The result likely will be a new meteor shower, and possibly a spectacular meteor storm of 1,000 or so shooting stars per hour, experts say.

Even if you can't watch the meteor shower in person, you can catch the celestial showcase live online via a few webcasts. The Slooh community is hosting live views of the shower beginning at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 May 24 GMT), and they will also stream a webcast about Comet 209P/LINEAR before that at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). Watch the webcasts directly through, or catch the Slooh meteor shower feed on The Virtual Telescope Project will also host a meteor shower webcast. [See maps and pictures about the new meteor shower]
Diagrams show the Camelopardalids meteor shower.
A rare meteor storm, or especially intense meteor shower, could happen if a particular comet was active hundreds of years ago. See how meteor storms work in this infographic.
Credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist
How to prepare
No two observers prepare for a meteor vigil the same way. It will help if you can take a late-afternoon nap and a shower, and wear all fresh clothing. The ground can get cold, so heavy blankets, sleeping bags, cushions and even pillows are all essential. Sleeping bags provide some mosquito protection, but don't forget the insect repellent!
A long, reclining lawn chair makes a good observation platform because it's comfortable, portable and, in most cases, relatively inexpensive. It also allows you to move your head toward any section of the sky. A Thermos of hot coffee, tea or juice is a welcome comfort. Avoid alcohol; it impairs night vision.
A new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, will make their first night sky appearance on May 23 and 24, 2014. Created by the Comet 209P/LINEAR, the meteors will appear to radiate out from the constellation Camelopardalis (Camel Leopard, or Giraffe).
A new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, will make their first night sky appearance on May 23 and 24, 2014. Created by the Comet 209P/LINEAR, the meteors will appear to radiate out from the constellation Camelopardalis (Camel Leopard, or Giraffe).
Credit: Science@NASA
The darker, the better
Find a safe observing site that provides a wide-open view of the sky. Once you arrive, allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become fully adapted to the dark. You can use a flashlight, but only after you make some key modifications: Cover the lens with a sheet of dark-red cellophane, since dim red light affects your eyes far less than lamplight.
Complete darkness is best for observing meteors. With light pollution so widespread, it's getting harder to find a truly dark sky. Use the bowl of the Little Dipper to help determine how dark the sky in your area is.  The brightest star in the Little Dipper is Kochab, a second-magnitude star. The next brightest is Pherkad, at third magnitude. The next brightest star is fourth-magnitude, and the next brightest is fifth-magnitude. So, if you can see all four stars in the bowl, you're in a pretty dark observing site. Keep in mind that for an increasing number of locations, only Kochab and Pherkad are visible, meaning you're likely to miss many of the fainter streaks.
It really doesn't make much of a difference in which direction you face. You just don't want trees, buildings or sky glow blocking your field of view. Gazing directly overhead (at the zenith) might be best. Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees; some groups recommend looking about 60 degrees up in the direction of the radiant; the radiant for the Comet 209P/LINEAR meteors is in the dim constellation of Camelopardalis, which will be located about one-third up in the sky from the north-northwest horizon.
Use a portable radio to stay updated on the weather. Before changing to what might be a better site, however, note whether the cloudiness is spotty. Sometimes, there are lengthy intervals when few meteors can be seen. Of course, hourly counts mean little if your sky is not entirely clear. [How to Pronounce the Camelopardalids (Video)]


  1. I just sent you an email about this before I saw the post...

    1. Thanks for the e-mail! We are having thunder & lightning storms - don't know if we will be able to see anything here :o(

  2. Reports are that the shower wasn't much. There is some interesting coverage here
    with pics and audio of radio meteor scatter audio. About a minute then he does his daily earthquake and solar reports.

    1. Thanks for the info - got up at 2:30, went outside and nothing but cloud cover - went back to sleep.
      Maybe can catch the next ones!

  3. We gave up the watch about 2:30.... only saw one dim one :((

    1. One of these days we'll get to see 'em, Mamahen! One night years ago I stayed up all night to see them and it was worth it! Put a blanket on the roof of my Jeep and just sat there in awe.