209P/LINEAR and this weekend’s Camelopardalids

This Friday evening/Saturday morning meteor watchers in Canada, the United States and Latin America may be treated to a meteor outburst from a rarely seen meteor shower. There is a possibility that dust from short-period comet 209P/LINEAR will produce a nice meteor shower.

There has been plenty already written on this possible shower, so I’ll just list a few sites that you should definitely visit.

American Meteor Society – where, when and how to observe the shower

Peter Jenniskens Meteor blog – the latest on what we know about the shower and its parent comet

International Meteor Organization – up-to-date activity graphs

The parent comet, 209P/LINEAR, is making a close approach to Earth this month. In fact at a little over 0.05 AU from Earth, 209P will be making the 9th closest known approach of a comet to Earth. Unfortunately it is very low activity comet and only observers with very large backyard telescopes will be able to see it. The movie below was made by myself only a few days after the comet’s perihelion.

Comet 209P/LINEAR as seen with the Vatican VATT 1.8-m telescope on 2014 May 9 UT in images by Carl Hergenrother.



  1. Hello Carl,

    Brandt and Chapman describe striae as a system of narrow, linear, and parallel bands that are found at large distances from the comet’s head. Introduction to Comets – Page 144 John C. Brandt, Robert D. Chapman – 2004

    I have noted faint traces of something at the end of dust tail on comet 209P/LINEAR in many stacked images most notably in Michael Jager’s image of May 20, 2014 posted on space weather

    Direct image link:

    1. Hi Charles,

      I think I see what you are seeing. Hopefully people will do some modeling of the dust tail of this comet (especially to better understand why the Camelopardalid predictions were so far off) and confirm (or not) their existence.

      – Carl

  2. Unfortunately due to a cloudy sky I missed the Camelopardalids last weekend. When is the next event as big as this one coming up?

    1. Hi Bob,

      Well, you didn’t miss much. The much anticipated Camelopardalids did not show up. Rather than one meteor per minute, most people saw only one CAM per hour. So in short, this shower was a bust for visual observers (radar observers actually say quite a show).

      The next good meteor shower will be on the nights of December 13 and 14. That shower consistently produces tens of meteors per hour for observers under reasonably dark skies. Usually the Perseids in August are also a good bet but this year the Moon will be full, washing out many of the fainter meteors.

      – Carl

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