Meteor shower over N. America a dud

May 24, 2014
A view of a meteor shower over the National Park of El Teide on the Spanish canary island of Tenerife, on December 13, 2012

Astronomers and amateur sky watchers across North America went to bed early Saturday disappointed by a meteor shower hyped as "potentially spectacular" that, in the end, was a dud.

The US Naval Observatory described the Camelopardalids meteor shower on Friday as a "potentially spectacular show," but that potential was never fulfilled.

The meteor shower could be seen by people in the United States, Canada and Mexico starting around 0230 GMT Saturday, according to NASA.

A weak showing, combined with passing clouds and light pollution from towns and cities, conspired to turn what many hoped would be a light show extravaganza into a sleepless night of stargazing punctuated by occasional streaks of light.

The best photos posted online on sites like Flickr, including those from NASA, show a sky lit with stars with occasional streaks of light.

NASA had a live feed camera pointed towards the sky, but despite the site's upbeat music there was little to see.

The #Camelopardalis were a bust," read a posting on Twitter. "From 12:45am-4:30am EDT: 12 small faint ones, 1 bright one, & 1 sporadic. I stayed up for this?"

One Twitter user wrote: "#Camelopardalis. More like #Cantopenmyeyelinds when my alarm goes off at 8 am."

In their defense, astronomers weren't entirely sure what to expect from a comet they only discovered in 2004.

"Meteor showers are like the weather. They are a little bit hard to predict," said Paul Wiegert, associate professor at the University of Western Ontario.

This meteor shower originates from the trail of dust behind a small, dim comet known as 209P/Linear. The debris gets tugged into Earth's orbit this year by the force of gravity from Jupiter.

Meteor showers consist of space rocks that burn up upon hitting the top of Earth's atmosphere, producing a bright flash of light that gives the appearance of a falling star.

A key piece of this meteor shower mystery lies in the ancient trail of dust behind the comet, which was produced centuries ago.

Initial predictions were that a few hundred meteors would be visible per hour, or a few meteors per minute—"not a special-effects extravaganza ... but it is in line with many of the strong annual ," Wiegert told AFP.

The annual Perseids meteor show that lasts for several days in August is made up of shooting stars that barrel by at a pace of 150,000 miles (241,000 kilometers) per hour.

The Camelopardalids meteors moved slower, traveling at around 36,000 miles (58,000 kilometers) per hour, Cooke said.

The show did not impress "Space Junkie," who wote on Twitter: dear #Camelopardalis ... thanks for the meteor-less yawn factory. take notes from the #persedis this july."

Astronomers flew in from Europe to observe the skies from a remote astronomy base in Saskatchewan, Canada, Cooke said, while others traveled to the US southwest where the forecast was for clear weather.

Explore further: 'Potentially spectacular' meteor shower over N. America

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Z99
1 / 5 (2) May 24, 2014
I'm semi-interested in the night sky; more than average, I think. But, enough is enough. This is the 3rd or 4th time in the last year or two that some "possibly spectacular" event has failed to even show up. I believe that on an average night, you would see more meteorites than what happened last night (I checked at 1, 2:30 and 4 am). I will no longer credit any claim by "experts" unless said "expert" has a demonstrated record of being right more often than being wrong - and I'm not talking about predicting eclipses and sun set (or other periodic (easily predictable) events). So, question #1: who correctly predicted that last night's "show" would probably not be spectacular?
kdconod
5 / 5 (8) May 24, 2014
@Z99 -- so basically you refuse to go look at any astronomical event unless the Universe gives you a guarantee that you *personally* are satisfied. That's not how science works. If we knew how all experiments will come out before we do them, science would be pointless.

If you look at the predictions made by various astronomers I don't think any of them were correct. This an opportunity for them to revise their models and figure out what went wrong.

But many of those astronomers did caution that we may see nothing at all. Unfortunately the media seems to have only two speeds: STOP and GO. Often even if an article states all the facts correctly, the editor writing the headline will write something ridiculous like "Meteor Shower Will Dazzle Stargazers" or "Comet of the Century Appears Tonight!" "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is an apt fable to remember.
Doug_Huffman
5 / 5 (2) May 25, 2014
+1@kdconod!

I was disappointed by the hoped-for Camelopardalid meteor shower. I laid on the lounge wrapped in a quilt from 0130 - 0230. I have never before noticed so many LEO satellites. I saw at least twelve, including two within a finger width so that I could compare their speeds and, thus, altitudes, very different. Another flashed like an Iridium but irregularly, with many seconds between groups.

The meteor rate was not different from what I expect from sporadics.

Now, on to Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and its 14 October close approach to Mars now with ZERO chance of impact and CPOA 9x10^-4 AU
BSD
2.3 / 5 (3) May 25, 2014
I will no longer credit any claim by "experts" unless said "expert" has a demonstrated record of being right more often than being wrong - and I'm not talking about predicting eclipses and sun set (or other periodic (easily predictable) events). So, question #1: who correctly predicted that last night's "show" would probably not be spectacular?


And yet all religion requires is faith.
Another black mark for science for not "coming up with the goods" and adds fuel to the fashionable, anti-science movement.
Perhaps if you studied astronomy a little and understood the unpredictability of such events instead of "news" from the Turdoch Press you would be a little more informed.
pandora4real
5 / 5 (2) May 25, 2014
90% of the stories announcing it were reprints of SLOOH advertising hype. And thank-you for removing the one that appeared here and quoted their marketing blurb verbatim.

For your penance you must abstain from posting "super moon" stories for 5 years.
pandora4real
5 / 5 (1) May 25, 2014
I will no longer credit any claim by "experts" unless said "expert" has a demonstrated record of being right more often than being wrong - and I'm not talking about predicting eclipses and sun set (or other periodic (easily predictable) events). So, question #1: who correctly predicted that last night's "show" would probably not be spectacular?


And yet all religion requires is faith.
Another black mark for science for not "coming up with the goods" and adds fuel to the fashionable, anti-science movement.
Perhaps if you studied astronomy a little and understood the unpredictability of such events instead of "news" from the Turdoch Press you would be a little more informed.


Actually, I did. It was clear it was marketing hype generated by SLOOH and their bought and paid for "astronomer" Bob Berman.
BSD
not rated yet May 26, 2014

Actually, I did. It was clear it was marketing hype generated by SLOOH and their bought and paid for "astronomer" Bob Berman.


Thank you for this, now it adds a new perspective to the article. I am not familiar with SLOOH or it's marketing practices. I'm not familiar with science "personalities" and not a US citizen.
rockwolf1000
not rated yet May 27, 2014
It's a shame people have to wait for meteor showers to go star gazing. There is so much to see in the night sky; galaxies, nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, our moon, the planets and their moons. Some people even try to identify crude patterns of stars. Constellations.

A meteor shower is akin to trinkets and shiny beads when you consider they are just minute bits of dust entering the atmosphere. Nice to look at, but of little substance.