The first-ever Camelopardalid meteor shower peaked in the wee hours of Saturday, May 24, offering stargazers a rare sight — the debut meteor display from the dusty Comet 209P/LINEAR. Below is video footage of a Camelopardalid meteor recorded by our NASA camera at Allegheny Observatory near Pittsburg, PA at 11:22 PM EDT on May 24. Still images of Camelopardalids are available in our Flickr gallery.
Step outside and take a look at the skies on the evening of May 23 into the early morning of May 24. Scientists are anticipating a new meteor shower, the May Camelopardalids. No one has seen it before, but the shower could put on a show that would rival the prolific Perseid meteor shower in August. The Camelopardalids shower would be dust resulting from a periodic comet, 209P/LINEAR.
“Some forecasters have predicted a meteor storm of more than 200 meteors per hour,” said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s. The parent comet doesn’t appear to be very active now, so there could be a great show, or there could be little activity.”
The best time to look is during the hours between 06:00 and 08:00 Universal Time on May 24, or between 2-4 a.m. EDT. That’s when forecast models say Earth is most likely to encounter the comet’s debris. North Americans are favored because their peak occurs during nighttime hours while the radiant is high in the sky.
On the night of May 23-24, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke will host a live web chat from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EDT. Go to this page to learn more about the May Camelopardalids, to get information about the live chat and to view the live Ustream view that will be available during the chat.
Last night at 8:38:30 PM CDT, a basketball size meteoroid entered the atmosphere 63 miles above Columbia, South Carolina. Moving northwest at 78,000 miles per hour, it burned up 52 miles above the Tennessee country side, just north of Chattanooga. This fireball was not part of any meteor shower and belongs to a class of meteors called Earthgrazers. These meteors skim along the upper part of the atmosphere before burning up. This one travelled a distance of 290 miles, which is quite rare for a meteor.
The American Meteor Society has received over 80 reports from the public about a bright fireball seen on July 13, 2013 at 04:16:18 UTC (corresponding to July 13, 2013 at 00:16:18 EDT). Fireball sightings range from Georgia and South Carolina up through Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, with most coming from North Carolina.
The NASA All Sky Fireball Network detected this fireball with four cameras stationed in Chickamauga, Georgia, Tullahoma, Tennessee, Dahlonega, Georgia, and Cartersville, Georgia. The event was just on the edge of the field of view in each camera, but bright enough to get the attention of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama, the engineers who run the NASA Network.
Preliminary analysis of NASA data indicates that this fireball came in at a speed of 28.1 km/s (62,900 mph) at an angle of 32 degrees from horizontal. The 600 g (1.3 lb) body was first picked up over Stanley, North Carolina at an altitude of 66.1 km (41 miles) and ablated most if not all of its mass away until it was last detected at 22.6 km (14 miles) over Morganton, North Carolina.
Image of the North Carolina fireball of July 13, 2013 taken by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network camera in Chickamauga, Georgia. The fireball exhibited a bright flare towards the end of its path. (Image Credit: NASA MEO)
The fireball trajectory is shown as a green line – the meteor moved from southeast to northwest. The southeastern branch of the NASA All Sky Fireball Network is shown as diamonds – red diamonds indicate that the fireball was observed from that station. Stations with a black diamond did not observe the fireball due to weather or geometry. Observer report information (blue people symbols) is taken from the American Meteor Society. (Image Credit: NASA MEO)
The NASA All Sky Fireball Network detected this beauty on May 16, 2013 at 03:11:50 UTC. Observed by 6 meteor cameras, this fireball penetrated deep into the atmosphere, making it down to an altitude of 36 km (22 miles).
A view of the fireball from Cartersville, Georgia. (NASA/MEO)
The 350 gram meteoroid responsible for this brilliant display entered the atmosphere at around 22 km/s (49,000 mph) — slow for a meteoroid! — and decelerated to about 10 km/s (22,000 mph) before disintegrating over northwest Georgia.
Map showing the location of 6 cameras in the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. Color-coded circles indicate the approximate field of view of each camera. The meteor’s path is shown in white. (NASA/MEO/D. Moser)
Calculations indicate a radiant in the constellation Libra.
Same meteor — same location — two different meteor cameras! The video shows the same meteor (an Eta Aquarid!) from one of our all-sky cameras and from our wide-field camera (~20×15 degree FOV) both located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
(Credit: All Sky Camera Network)
A composite image of 13 Eta Aquarid meteors from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Mayhill, New Mexico the morning of May 6, 2013. Clouds seriously hampered our view of the ETAs this year. Observations reported to the International Meteor Organization indicate an outburst in the early hours of May 6th UTC.
(Credit: All Sky Camera Network)
Despite interference from the moon and clouds (and rising sun!), this morning we snagged our first observations of the 2013 Eta Aquarids. Here’s an image of one from the all sky camera in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Eta Aquarids peak in the pre-dawn hours on May 6 and are material from Halley’s comet. They zoom around the solar system at speeds near 148,000 mph. The one seen here burned up completely in our atmosphere over Nunnelly, Tennessee at a height of 58.7 miles above the ground.
(Credit: All Sky Camera Network)
(Credit: MSFC Meteoroid Environment Office)
A Lyrid meteor streaks though the dawn sky over North Georgia College and State University. Moving at 105,800 mph, this inch-diameter piece of Comet Thatcher lasted less than one and a half seconds, burning up 46 miles above Earth’s surface. The second image shows the same meteor seen from the Tellus Science Museum located in Cartersville, GA, some 50 miles distant. By measuring the change in the meteor’s position (triangulation), we can determine its trajectory and speed.
Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed for more than 2,600 years. In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower. You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Lyrids appear to come from a point in the constellation Lyra.
Last night (March 22) at around 8 p.m. EDT, a meteoroid with a boulder size of ~1 yard in diameter entered the atmosphere above Pennsylvania and moved southeast, passing just south of New York City. It went dark over the Atlantic Ocean, and may have produced meteorites which dropped harmlessly into the water below. This trajectory plot, produced by Mike Hankey from the over 350 eyewitness accounts, is on the American Meteor Society’s website (http://www.amsmeteors.org/ and shows the meteor’s path.
(Credit: American Meteor Society)