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NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO)
The NASA Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) is the NASA organization responsible for meteoroid environments pertaining to spacecraft engineering and operations.
Marshall Space Flight Center
A Possible New Meteor Shower: May Camelopardalids
Editor's note: This event is now closed.
› Chat Transcript (PDF, 325 Kb)
Scientists anticipate a new meteor shower tonight: the May Camelopardalids, resulting from the dust of periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. No one has seen it before, but the shower could put on a prolific show. The shower is predicted to be active on May 24, 02:30 - 11:00 UTC (May 23, 10:30 p.m. to May 24, 7 a.m. EDT). The peak is projected between 06:00 - 08:00 UTC (2-4 a.m EDT). This will be a one-night-only event.
Projected viewing of May Camelopardalids meteor shower at 06:00 UTC. Click here for full map. (NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser)
“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.”
More About the May Camelopardalids and Comet 209P/LINEAR
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.
In 2006 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 outburst.
"We expect these meteors to radiate from a point in Camelopardalis, also known as 'the giraffe,' a faint constellation near the North Star," Cooke said. "It’s a great opportunity to see a new meteor shower -- an opportunity I want to see with my own eyes.”