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This website only lists information on modern-day comets and meteor showers. The book, however, thoroughly investigates how specific ancient impacts and near misses changed religious beliefs around the world.

May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower

May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower




Discovery of the May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower

Although the list of meteor showers hasn't changed very much over the past several decades, we may be adding to that list in May of 2014.


In 2006, calculations showed that Earth will pass through dust trails left by Comet 209P / LINEAR on May 24, 2014 (Jenniskens, 2006). The peak activity of this new meteor shower will occur at 7:00 UT / GMT. These calculations were confirmed by others (Vaubaillon 2012, Maslov 2013). The radiant of the meteor shower is predicted to occur in Camelopardalis, a constellation close to the north celestial pole (Ye and Wiegart, 2013). If meteors do radiate from Camelopardalis on May 24, then the meteor shower would be known as the May Camelopardalids, since there are March Camelopardalids and October Camelopardalids.


Astrophysicists vary in their predictions for the peak intensity of the May Camelopardalids on May 24, 2014. It could be anywhere between 100 and 400 meteors an hour (Vaubaillon, 2013), an admittedly conservative 100 meteors an hour (Maslov, 2013), or 200 meteors an hour (Ye and Wiegart, 2013). Maslov correctly asserts, "It is difficult to estimate expected intensity of the outburst due to the lack of past observed cases of activity from the given comet meteor shower, as well as due to very small size of the comet itself and unknown level of its past activity … and it is very possible that real activity will turn to be much higher. Storm levels (over 1,000 meteors an hour) are also far from being excluded."




Camelopardalid meteor shower radiant


Possible radiant of the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower on May 24, 2014.

Credit: Stellarium with radiant composited by K. Curran









The Parent Body of the May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower

On February 3, 2004, a moving object was captured by an automated detection system called Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR). Since the object did not have a coma, it was initially classified as a minor planet. Its formal designation was 2004 CB. On March 30, 2004 Robert McNaught gave 2004 CB another look. McNaught, one of the most prolific "comet hunters" in history, observed a tail on 2004 CB (McNaught and Kocer, 2004). This was no asteroid; it was a comet. The object was reclassified and received the permanent designation 209P / LINEAR in December of 2008, becoming the 209th periodic comet to have its orbit definitively determined.


209 P / LINEAR is a Jupiter-Family Comet with an orbital period of 5.04 years. Its perihelion will be on May 6, 2014 at 0.969 AU. Eighteen days later, Earth will occupy almost the same space.


Astrophysicists vary on which past dust trail(s) from Comet 209P / LINEAR will cause the May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower in May of 2014. Suggestion include meteors being primarily from dust trails between 1803 and 1924 (Vaubaillon, 2012), 1898 and 1919 (Maslov), and 1798, 1803, 1868, 1878, 1883, 1924, 1954, 1964 and 1979 (Ye and Wiegart, 2013).


comet linear meteor shower in 2014


Positions Comet 209P / LINEAR and Earth on May 24, 2014

Credit: JPL




When are the May Camelopardalids visible?

On May 24, 2014, the best place to see the May Camelopardalid Meteor Shower will be in the Northwestern United States and Southern Canada. Find a dark place, away from city lights, with a clear view of the northern sky. The May Camelopardalids will peak around 07:30 GMT / UT (3:30 AM ET / 12:30 PCT).


The moon will not be a factor. It will be waning, four days from being a new moon.