May and Meteor Showers

on Saturday, 26 April 2014.

One established shower and possibly an OUTRAGEOUS new one


May has two meteor events well worth checking out and one of them may be outrageous!

Early in the month, May 5-7, 2014, the Eta Aquarids come to the forefront.  The predicted peak for this shower is May 6, 2014 but this meteor shower's maximum is one that actually spans over several nights.  Expect to see ten to twenty bright meteors per hour from this event (likely on the lower end).

The best time to view the Eta Aquarids is in the predawn hours around 4 am and the moon is going to cooperate for this event with a first quarter moon setting prior to the peak hour. This will set up potentially an amazing light show of meteors for those who care to (or need to) rise at such an early hour.  The radiant (apparent area where a meteor shower appears to originate) for this shower is around the star Eta in the constellation Aquarius.

Late in May, there is a real possibility for a brand new meteor show for all of us on Earth.  In 2009, Comet Linear passed near the Sun and will pass near it again in early May, 2014.  Later in May, as the Earth passes through Linear's debris field there is a chance of a fine, very, VERY fine and new meteor shower. 

The date predicted is May 24, 2014 was first registerd in 2012 by astronomers and meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center.  Other researchers and scientists have used the term, "meteor storm" while others have been more conservative and have predicted "strong meteor showers."

Jeremie Vaubaillon of The Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides in France told space.com: 

So far, given the observations, we estimate a ZHR (zenithal hourly rate) of 100/hr to 400/hr, which is an excellent outburst! But this shower can become an exceptional one. Indeed, given the current orbit of the comet, all the trails ejected between 1803 and 1924 do fall in the Earth’s path in May 2014! As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm.

The more recent, less optimistic calculations come from Quanzhi Ye and Paul A. Wiegert, both at University of Western Ontario. Their work was published online in November 2013. In a report on their work at skyandtelescope.com, John Bochanski wrote that Ye and Wiegert’s work suggests a rate of 200 meteors per hour under ideal conditions.

Bochanski wrote:

But Ye and Wiegert warn that, given the current relatively weak dust production of the comet, rates could be much lower. With the low dust production, as well as the team’s lower estimate of how many debris streams from the comet’s previous passes are hanging around in this region of space, it’s highly unlikely that we’re in for a meteor storm (1,000 per hour) — although the team couldn’t quite rule it out.

Whichever theory is right, it sounds like Comet Linear's meteor shower on the night of May 24, 2014 will be something that shouldn't be missed!  200 meteors per hour is an amazing sight; 500 meteors per hour will be absolutely incredible.  There's no way to know for sure.  As with ANY meteor shower, the only real way to tell is to go out on the night of the peak of the shower and look up!  Fingers crossed!!!!

 

 

 

 

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