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What is the next big meteor shower? According to E. Lyytinen and P. Jenniskens, the comet 209P/LINEAR (2004 CB) will cause it in 2014. We checked is and actually confirm this prediction by running our meteor shower prediction model.
It is clear the the Earth will cross it on May 24th around 7:40 UT. Now the crucial question is to know the level of the shower: will it be an outburst or a storm?
The estimate of level of the shower is based on photometric measurements of the comet. Very few data are currently available (as on Oct. 2014). So far, given the observations, we estimate a ZHR 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 (from JPL HORIZONS ephemerids database), ALL THE TRAILS EJECTED BETWEEN 1803 AND 1924 DO FALL IN THE EARTH PATH IN MAY 2014!!! As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm. But how to definitely know whether or not it will be a storm?
Call for Observation of comet 209P/LINEAR (2004 CB)
The only way to know if this shower will be a storm or not is to better know the parent body, comet 209P/LINEAR (2004 CB). AS A CONSEQUENCE, WE CALL FOR OBSERVATION: ASTROMETRY, PHOTOMETRY - MAGNITUDE AND [Afrho] MEASUREMENTS! ANY data will help in order to derive the ZHR (number of visible meteors - after correction).
Comet 209P: What to observe / measure?
- Astrometry: the position of the comet in the sky as a function of time will help to better know the trajectory of the comet in the future and in the past. As a consequence, it will confirm (or not) that all the trails from 1803 to 1924 are indeed crossing the path of the Earth in May 2014.
- Magnitude (visual - absolute): it will help to measure the amount of water the comet is outgasing, as a function of heliocentric distance.
- [Afrho]: will help to compute the amount of dust emitted by the comet
- Infrared data: will help to derive the amount of dust emitted by the comet, as opposed to gas (water).
Comet 209P: How will we use the measurement?
Please, see Vaubaillon et al. (2005) for details.
Where can we observe the meteor shower?
Given the time of the maximum and from preliminary work, N.America (Canada and Northern US) seems to be the best location so far, BUT ACCURATE DETERMINATION HAS NOT BEEN PERFORMED YET (=preliminary result). One should NOT go too much north, as at this time of the year the Sun is always above the horizon at the North pole. One should NOT go too much South, as the radiant gets lower above the horizon. It will be a few days prior to new Moon, which is a good news. However the Moon will rise a few dozen minutes before the maximum.
The Earth is expected to encounter a great numbet of the comet 209P trails in 2014. The main source of activity should become 1898-1919 trails, however some meteors could be produced by the earlier trails of the comet, down to 1763 trail, which is the oldest computed trail, and even earlier. The computed time of maximum acitivity is May 24, 2014, at 7:21 UT, theoretical radiant is RA=122.8°, Dec=+79.0°. 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. However, considering high computed density and high number of encountered trails, we can very approximately estimate ZHRex as 100 meteors. Its a very cautious estimation, and it is very possible that real acitivity will turn to be much higher. Storm levels are also far from being excluded.
The most recent calculations, however, indicate we might get a strong shower, but perhaps not a storm of meteors.
The FLUXTIMATOR is an online tool for getting an estimate of meteor shower activity. There are differing estimates for the possible shower of comet 209P/LINEAR. It could even be a dud according to Bill Cook over at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. We must simply observe when the time comes. Comets are notoriously unpredictable and there are many uncertainties and assumptions in order to make a prediction.