Meteor Shower No Show

The much-anticipated Camelopardalids display was a bust.


Malcolm Park captured a trio of Camelopardalid meteors and a pass of the International Space Station from his observing site on north shore of Lake Erie, at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario. “While the pace was slow, this shower still produced the occasional bright meteor,” he reports.

Although clear skies prevailed across much of Canada, there have been no reports of significant activity from the May 23/24 Camelopardalids, or “Camelopardal-duds,” as SkyNews contributor Ken Hewitt-White has wryly dubbed them. Ken’s experience was typical, noting “not enough sightings to get even remotely excited, not even one meteor per letter in the name Camelopardalids.”

I observed the event from Victoria, British Columbia, for an hour around the predicted peak of activity, and came up largely empty handed. I saw only one meteor that I could confidently attribute to the Camelopardalid stream. But observers on the other side of the country fared no better. Viewing from Yarker, Ontario, SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson was similarly skunked, reporting “numerous satellites drifted through but during the full hour not one meteor. Not one. It was a very pleasant night with no wind — and no meteors. Pity.”

Under the dark skies of Cypress Hills, Alberta, SkyNews associate editor Alan Dyer was all set to photograph the event. The results? “Meteors, yes. Cam meteors? Not one captured out of 300 frames shot, and visually I can’t say for sure any were Cams,” he said.

This is the part of the report where we’d normally say something along the lines of, “well, there’s always next year . . .”  Unfortunately for the Cams, “next year” likely won’t come until 2022.  Given the paucity of this year’s show, I’m not sure too many observers will be marking their calendars.

Dyer-May 24

Alan Dyer‘s photographic hunt for “a herd of Camelopardalids” yielded only a few shots of satellites, like the one in this image captured from Cypress Hills.

Categories: Observing Reports
12 comments on “Meteor Shower No Show
  1. May 23/24, 2014

    Well, we had a few “sucker” breaks from 0400 UT to 0700 UT but nothing showed between them, *if* there would have been no clouds the transparency was excellent with 5.5 mag from my

    I’m monitoring 83.24 MHz ( very,,,very,,,very,,, few frequencies to use anymore ) but have heard only
    a few pings one at 0600 UT and that has been it so far. Will keep listening for a few more hours. Ended listening at 1500 UT today and still heard no increase in radio rates.

  2. KC says:

    True – the Boy Who Cried Wolf is a very apt story. Eventually if astronomers and media keep hyping events that turn out to be busts, the public will no longer trust us and stop listening.

  3. David A. Rodger says:

    Another astronomical event, another disappointment. That’s two of them in less than six months, the last being Comet ISON.

    I wonder if we ought not to have a conversation about how we promote astronomical events to the general public. I’m not concerned about inviting the public to view the moon, planets or even deep-sky objects, nor about publicizing eclipses, conjunctions and so on. We know when and where they’ll occur, and what they’ll look like, so the only barrier is the weather.

    But whenever something is iffy – – such as comets, novae or “new” meteor showers – – almost inevitably they suffer from the Kohoutek Effect.

    I am not trying to be exclusive here or “elitist.” I love sharing astronomy with the general public; I’ve been doing it for nearly 60 years. But we risk alienating the public, and it’s the public and their elected officials whose support we need to fight light pollution, for example. If they go out and don’t see what they expected, such as a snowstorm of a meteor shower or Mars looming large like the full moon, they go away disappointed, mumbling about there being nothing to see after all. So why protect the sky?

    Need I remind readers of the fable of the boy who cried wolf?

    We need to think long and hard about how we engage the public, especially when it involves using the popular news media, who love conflict and controversy. Their general reporters (as opposed to that rare breed, science reporters) don’t seem to know anything about the topic we love and, inevitably get it wrong.


  4. Richard Huziak says:

    I guess I really don’t get it. Apparently if it is not spectacular, it is not good enough! What a strange attitude from members of a supposed “learned society!” So it didn’t storm! So what? By careful observation by a few people, a brand new shower, never seen before, has been confirmed; maybe we hit the outlying part of the stream, but we hit it, and whoever predicted this did a good job anyway. Sometimes we forget that those doing the science work hard and their predictory skills are first based on good initial observation (of the comet in this case) then follow-up observations to confirm the predictions. As it turns out, the predicted shower happened – maybe not as spectacular as thought, but it did happen! We saw something new and unique last night, and for some reason, this is simply not good enough for many out there!! I wasn’t disappointed! I was elated that we saw a new shower, no matter how small! You don’t get to do that very often!

  5. Rena Woss says:

    It was overcast in Lethbridge but as exciting as anything is what Rick conveyed so well … its “a brand new shower, never seen before, has been confirmed; maybe we hit the outlying part of the stream, but we hit it, on this one”. That alone is great. Rena

  6. Bill Paulin says:

    I have always trusted and will continue to have faith in the astronomer’s prediction of possible cosmic events – a chance to be amazed – why not? Now and then it doesn’t happen as expected, I can live with that. What if it was the ‘event of a lifetime’ but nobody was aware it was happening? Keep em’ coming –
    Now the weatherman’s predictions on the other hand…

  7. I was out from 2-3:30 a.m. observing from the southern Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. During that time I saw six, which is fewer than the more optimistic predictions, but still worthwhile. As Richard says above, it was a thrill to see something new and unique that had been predicted so far in advance. The ones I did see were bright, traveled slower than most meteors, and had a lovely golden colour. I managed to capture an image of one of them.

    • Peter Yaremko says:

      I also was on the Bruce Peninsula dn awesome dark skis, about 6 meteors, and yes even if it was a “dud” just seeing some was great!!!

  8. Sad to say, but we blew our car’s engine trying to spot the Camelopardalids.

    We had left the comforts of our Red Deer area apartment to venture about 40 kms East of Kindersley Saskatchewan, just a little North of Fiske Sask. While setting up, we did notice the same (dust trail?) as photographed above. We actually thought it was a small & quick Auroras show prior to the anticipated stellar light show. However, after viewing quite a few geosynchronous satellites & the ISS fly by, we saw 2 streaks across the nights sky at 2:19 – 2:21 AM, but they did not originate from the specified area of observation, making me think they were just by-chance sightings that would have occurred anyways. A total BUST for us.

    As the Wandering Astronomers of Central Alberta, we travel to to where the skies are clear for rare astronomical events. With dark thundershowers over Central Alberta, we headed into Central Sask. this time, but came away with about 150-250 shots of the beautiful Saskatchewan Nights sky.

    We almost made it home too. The engine started to rattle something fierce on the return trip. Without any warning, the motor quit while still in drive. Oh NO!

    Our car engine, much like the Camelopardalids are a complete bust. The engine ceased while in drive. The tow home wasn’t as eventful.

    Nice to see Alan is back in Canada after a winter in Australia.

    Thank You Alan for all the pictures & updates, it is greatly appreciated by folks like us, who will never see the delights in the southern hemisphere unless we rent a telescope at the SSO. Hopefully we will be seeing you at one of your excellent teaching seminars. All the great information you have passed along in those seminars have been put to good use. Soon we will offer up some of our most recent photo’s from the lunar eclipse & last night’s satellite hunting expedition.

    To all, have a great summer hunting the astronomically rare events. As soon as I get the old 72 Chevy C-10 out of mothballed storage, we’ll be back hunting, hopefully sooner than later.


  9. On a footnote; The night wasn’t a total bust for us, my loving wife Marion sought out 3 of the 4 planets available in the nights sky, Mars, Saturn & Pluto, through a Celestron 6″ SCT. After finding the planets, Marion spent a couple of hours on a Sky tour. Although seeing conditions were so poor a photograph was not worth attempting, it was a great night under the stars.

    Although the experience of a once in a lifetime event wasn’t able to live up to the billing some media outlets have hyped, SkyNews was honest in it’s report of the possibilities of the rare event.

    We had a great night under a reasonably clear Saskatchewan night sky. While the prime reason for heading out didn’t materialised as some had hoped it would, us included, the night wasn’t considered a loss by any means. We saw 3 of 4 planets available in the spring sky, Marion was able to Sky Tour for 3 hours & I learned a bit too.

    All considered, it was a great night under the stars. Any disappointment about not seeing a full blown meteor shower was quickly dispelled by viewing other objects available in the sky to take the place of the anticipated event.

    Any time spent under clear night skies, with friends or loved ones is better than any night in front of the television or computer screen.
    All in all, we saw our planet orbit into a comet’s dust trail & the short, brief effects of the comet’s path had on our atmosphere. Although it wasn’t able to live up to it’s fullest potential, it still provided us with a new sight rarely seen by humans & rarely understood by our ancestors & early astronomers.

    For us, Last night was special. We witnessed something humans rarely see, as we are in a country that was perfect for the viewing. Much like an Aurora Borealis, millions of Canadians every year see this spectacle more than once a year, while billions of people worldwide will never see one.

    While it great to anticipate the potential of something, not having any expectations of the unknown is better then being disappointed. We drove to Central Saskatchewan with the hope of seeing a rare event. We saw that event, appreciated what it was & moved on to other sights available.

    All in all, another great night out & we were not disappointed by what we saw.


  10. Mike Insalaco says:

    Beautiful photo, I may have to share it, with full credit to Mr Park!!

    I though about getting my camera out and checking for the ISS but I didn’t do it. A beautiful capture!

  11. Jess Wiseman says:

    I sat out with my husband and a few friends and was so eager to introduce them to a meteor shower as none of them had ever seen one before. The weather was wonderful(ie clear skies and almost 50 degrees) and we saw about 15 over the course of 1.5 hours from 1AM-2:30AM when I finally said show’s over. It was, to say the least, disappointing.

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