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Mission statement - An automated video surveillance of the night sky to validate minor showers in the IAU Working List of Meteor Showers.


Scientific results:

warped stream
Omicron Eridanids.

2017, March 8 - Peter Jenniskens has taken stock of low-light video meteor observations to date in a review paper on meteor showers for the Meteoroids 2016 meeting proceedings, accepted for publication in the journal Planetary Space Science. After plotting the radiants in sun-centered coordinates (taking out Earth's motion), 18 Jupiter family comet showers and 27 long-period (Hally-type) comet showers are detected that have a moving radiant over periods of 15 days or longer. The structure of two of those streams, the kappa Cygnids and omicron Eridanids, were visualized by Ian Webster, who plotted the orbits in our new meteor shower visualization tool. By clicking on the animation and by dragging the cursor to change perspective, it is fun and instructive to see how the stream is warped in space. [News story] Animation: [kappa Cygnids] [omicron Eridanids]

CHOMg compound Representative ion dihydroxymagnesium-n-pentanoate [(OH)2MgO2CC4H9]-

2017, March 6 - A paper in PNAS last week announced the discovery of a unique class of metal-organic compounds. They were found in some of the pristine meteorites we recovered in our past case studies, including Novato and Chelyabinsk. [More]

2016 Ursids
2017, February 20 - CAMS California detected an outburst of Ursids on December 22, 2016, caused by the 1076 A.D. dust of comet 8P/Tuttle. [CBET 4363]

2017, January 20 - The Journal of the International Meteor Organization published our paper confirming the delta Mensids shower, based on observations from the CAMS New Zealand network.

October Camelopardalids

2016, October 12 - The dust trail of an unknown long-period comet wandered in Earth's path on October 5. The outburst of October Camelopardalids (IAU code "OCT") peaked at around 14:45 UT. CAMS California recorded 9 meteors from a compact radiant between 8:45 and 13:15 UT, while the the new network in the United Arab Emirates on the other side of Earth detected 3 between 14:48 and 19:15 UT. Carl Johannink reports that a first look of CAMS BeNeLux data also shows four OCT. Geocentric radiants cluster on the border of the constellations Camelopardalis and Draco. [CBET telegram]

July gamma Draconids

2016, August 2 - Outburst of July gamma Draconids. While reducing the CAMS BeNeLux data of the partially cloudy night of July 27/28, including data from the new station by Jos Nijland, Martin Breukers noticed unusually strong activity from the July Gamma Draconids shower (IAU #184) between July 27 23h56m and July 28 00h23m UT. About half of all 126 single-station detected meteors, typically about +2 magnitude bright, radiated from this shower's radiant (see plot above), as did 5 out of 9 multi-station meteors. The median geocentric radiant position was R.A. = 279.88 +/ 0.12 deg., Decl. = +50.12 +/- 0.46 deg., with speed Vg = 27.31 +/- 0.09 km/s, corresponding to a Halley-type comet orbit with semi-major axis a = 27 +/- 4 AU, q = 0.977 +/- 0.002 AU, i = 39.9 +/- 0.2 deg., w = 202.7 +/- 0.5 deg., and node = 125.133 +/- 0.007 deg (J2000). The parent body is unknown. Confirmation comes from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar: Peter Brown reports that an outburst was detected centered on 0h UT with a Full-Width-at-Half-Maximum of about 2 hours and an equivalent zenith hourly rate of 50/hour between 0 and 1 UT, July 28. [CBET Telegram]

Arizona fireball

2016, June 2 - A -20 magnitude fireball in Arizona was captured by the new LO-CAMS network. Several cameras at the Discovery Channel Telescope recorded the early part of the fireball (photo above) and it was also captured by one of the cameras of the Mars Hill station. Preliminary results from the trajectory and orbit calculations were presented by Peter Jenniskens and Carl Johannink at the International Meteor Conference less than 24h after the event and, just days later, by Nick Moskovitz at the Meteoroids 2016 meetings in the Netherlands.

2016, March 1 - A paper was submitted to JIMO with the title "Strong return of December alpha Bootids (IAU#497, DAB)", describing a strong detection of this shower in 2015. The shower was discovered earlier in CAMS data.

2016, February 1 - The book Asteroids IV (The University of Arizona Press) has come out, with a review article on Meteoroid Streams and the Zodiacal Cloud.

2016, January 3 - cover The new CAMS-related articles in the journal Icarus (1 March 2016 issue, Vol. 266, pages 331-354, 355-370, 371-383, and 384-409, respectively) are now available online (free download until February 28):
I. The Established Meteor Showers as observed by CAMS
II. CAMS Confirmation of Previously Reported Meteor Showers
III. CAMS Verification of Single-Linked High-Threshold D-Criterion Detected Meteor Showers
IV. CAMS Newly detected showers and the sporadic background

Illustration by Danielle Futselaar New Year's Eve meteor shower. Illustration: Danielle Futselaar/SETI Institute.

Volantids radiantmap Direction from which meteors approached us on December 31 (and next night).

2016, February 20 - How cool would it be to have a natural meteor shower in the sky at the time of the New Year Eve's artificial fireworks celebrations? Well, this year we had. We just discovered that our CAMS video camera surveillance of meteor showers in the Southern Hemisphere (CAMS New Zealand, with stations operated by Peter Aldous and Ian Crumpton) detected a previously unknown shower of naked-eye meteors that peaked at the time of the local new year's eve celebrations. One out of three meteors that night came from this shower. The new shower is now known as the Volantids, named after the constellation Volans, the flying fish, from where the meteoroids appear to approach us. A confined stream of dust particles must have been steered into Earth's path for a brief moment, because the shower was not seen the prior year and not known from past observations. Interestingly, we can't identify yet where this dust is coming from. The source is a Jupiter-family comet that must now be in a relatively highly inclined orbit.
[CBET telegram]
[Paper submitted to JIMO]
[Feature story]

CAMS Decmeber 2015 Overview of all CAMS network data from December 2015.

2015, December 22 - A paper "Evidene for 2009WN25 being the parent body of the November i-Draconids (NID)" by Marco Micheli, David J. Tholen and Peter Jenniskens was accepted for publication in Icarus. In this paper, Marco compares modeling results of meteoroid stream dynamics to the CAMS data obtained for this shower. [Article downloadable on Arxiv]

2015, December 1 - The CAMS Meteoroid Orbit Database version 2.0 was released today, containing data up to the end of March, 2013. This data is discussed in the recent Icarus papers.

Sporadic distribution
The distribution of semi-major axis for sporadic meteors observed by CAMS (about 1-cm sized meteoroids), and by the radar systems CMOR (0.1-cm) and AMOR (0.01-cm). Note that CAMS data contain some of the same Poynting-Robertson evolved population of meteoroids that dominate the CMOR and AMOR data.

2015, November 27 - The journal Icarus now has accepted our fourth CAMS paper: CAMS Newly detected showers and the sporadic background. Aside from 60 newly identified meteor showers, 28 of which are also detected independently in the SonotaCo survey, this paper reports that CAMS data contain a Poynting-Robertson evolved population of sporadic meteors. That means that the collisional lifetime of large cm-sized particles is much longer than astronomers assumed. Most of the large particles are lost, instead, by processes other than collisions.

2015, November 26 - The Meteoritical Society published the Bulletin on Creston, the meteorite fall that occurred in California in the evening of October 23. It is an L6 ordinary chondrite. As of November 10, four meteorites were found by meteorite hunters.

chi cygnids

2015, September 15 - A new meteor shower: chi Cygnids (757, CCY). Martin Breukers and Carl Johannink, responsible for the CAMS@BeNeLux data reduction, first spotted a number of slow meteors radiate from Cygnus on the night of September 14/15. Confirmation quickly came from the CAMS California network and from CMOR data. A CBAT telegram was issued in time for other observers to see the meteors. The shower was still active in the night Sept. 16/17.

Novato fireball
MAPS August issue cover: The October 17, 2012, Novato meteorite fall in images taken from Santa Rosa by Robert P. Moreno, Jr., compliation by J. Albers and P. Jenniskens. [Higher resolution version]

cover 2014, August 15 - Two manuscripts from a consortium study of the Novato meteorite will be published in the August issue of the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science. [Manuscripts online at EarlyView] [NASA press release]



JIMO cover

July 22, 2014 - Naked eye observers were disappointed by the poor showing of the May 24 Camelopardalids meteor shower from the close passage of comet 209P/LINEAR to Earth last month, but the weak activity of this never-before-seen shower now has scientists excited. An analysis of airborne and ground-based observations by Peter Jenniskens, published in the latest issue of the Journal of the International Meteor Organization, finds that this comet's meteoroids were unusually fragile and the shower was dominated by meteors too small to see with the naked eye. The dust encountered by Earth in May was more than a century old. One explanation for the lack of large meteoroids is that they did not survive the harsh conditions of space. [Manuscript]; [Press Release]

Map of glass damage in Chelyabinsk Oblast
Map of glass damage in Chelyabinsk Oblast. Fireball moved from right to left. Dots are villages and towns in the area, marked red or orange when glass damage occurred. Yellow dots are the locations where meteorites were recovered. Gray area shows predictions of overpressure from asteroid impact models. From: Popova et al., Science Vol. 42 (2013).

2013, November 6 - Science published today a report on the Chelyabinsk meteoroid impact that describes the results from a Russian Academy of Sciences fact finding mission in the weeks after the impact, led by Dr. Olga Popova of the Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres of the RAS and Vacheslav Emel'yanenko of the Institute of Astronomy of the RAS in Moscow. NASA Ames and SETI Institute meteor astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens participated in this effort as outside expert and coordinated the study of the recovered meteorites. Now, the report led by Popova and Jenniskens, with contributions by 57 other researchers from nine countries, gives a detailed picture of all aspects that contributed to how the shockwave was created that caused the damage on the ground: how fast the meteoroid entered the Earth's atmosphere, how its kinetic energy was dissipated, and how processes that happened 4.4 billion years ago on the asteroid parent body contributed to determining the material properties of this meteoroid that made it break the way it did. Thanks to incredible local observations of this event, Chelyabinsk is expected to be a gold standard for asteroid impact modeling long into the future.

[More here]

2013, August 1 - A paper describing the discovery of the February epsilon Virginids from CAMS data was published in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization. This was SETI REU student Kathryn Steakley's first science paper.

Steakley K., Jenniskens P., 2013. Discovery of the February Epsilon Virginids (FEV, IAU#506). JIMO 41, 109-111.

2013, June 1 - A paper describing the nu Cygnids from CAMS data was published in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization.

Jenniskens P., Haberman B., 2013. "Thatcher's Ghost": Confirmation of the nu Cygnids (NCY, IAU#409). JIMO 41, 75-76.

2013, April 1 - A paper describing the discovery of the upsilon Andromedids from CAMS data was published in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization.

Holman D., Jenniskens P., 2013. Discovery of the Upsilon Andromedids. JIMO 41, 43-47.

2013, April 1 - An overview paper of now established meteor showers was published in the proceedings of the 2012 International Meteor Conference.

Jenniskens P., Gural P. S., Holman D., 2013. The established meteor showers as seen in video meteoroid orbit surveys. In: Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference, La Palma, Canary Islands, 20-23 September 2012, Gyssens M., Roggemans P., eds., International Meteor Organization, pp. 38-43.

2013, February 1 - A paper describing observations with two CAMS units in the Netherlands was published in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization.

Johannink, C., 2013. Results for a CAMS double-station video observation Meterik - Gronau. JIMO 41, 14-21.

Sutter's Mill fall
Photo of Sutter's Mill fall by Lisa Warren.

2012, December 21 - Today in the journal Science, 70 authors published a report on the first two months of studies on the fall of the Sutter's Mill meteorite and its properties. Sutter's Mill was found to have arrived from the asteroid belt recently, on an orbit that still points to its source region. The meteorites are unusually diverse, composed of rocks within rocks, the first time a CM chondrtie is clearly a regolith breccia. The rapid recovery, thanks to the first detection of falling meteorites from a carbonaceous chondrite fall by Doppler weather radar, provided the most pristine look yet at the former surface of the CM chondrite parent body asteroid.
[Manuscript]
[Supporting Online Materials]

2012, October 1 - Confusion betwen the Northern Delta Aquariids and the Northern June Aquilids is resolved. Both showers have a perihelion close to the Sun, but they have slightly different inclination. The Northern Delta Aquariids is the August shower, the Northern June Aquilids is active in late June and all of July.

D. Holman, P. Jenniskens, 2012. Confirmation of the Northern Delta Aquariids (NDA, IAU#26) and the Northern June Aquilids (NZC, IAU #164). JIMO 40, 166-170.

December 1-8
December 1-8 (4250 SonotaCo and 3240 CAMS)

2012, July 20 - The September issue of Sky and Telescope features an overview article about the first year of observations by CAMS. A series of maps combining CAMS and SonotaCo data identify the first 64 established meteor showers by the International Astronomical Union.
[Manuscript]
[Shower Maps]

2012, June 1 - The link between the Marsden Sunskirter comets and the Daytime Arietids is confirmed. CAMS observations in the pre-dawn hours of early June demonstrate that the semi-major axis of the Daytime Arietids is similar to that of the Marsden Sunskirter comets, as opposed to the low value derived from earlier radar observations.

P. Jenniskens, H. Duckworth, B. Grigsby, 2012. Daytime Arietids and Marsden Sunskirters (ARI, IAU#171). JIMO 40, 98-100.

2012, February 1 - A paper describing the confirmation of the July Gamma Draconids from CAMS data was published in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization.

D. Holman, P. Jenniskens, 2012. Confirmation of the July Gamma Draconids (GDR, IAU#184). JIMO (in press).

2011, December 20 - We have discovered why we see meteors flash through the night sky while they seemingly rain down on us gently at the same time! In a paper published in the December 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal, David Nesvorny, Diego Janches, David Vokrouhlicky, Petr Pokorny, William F. Bottke, and Peter Jenniskens reconciled models of the zodiacal cloud with radar observations, revealing a game of hide and seek and an interesting identity switcharoo.
[Article]
[Press release (Dec20)]

2011, December 14 - During routine low-light level video observations with CAMS (Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance) in the period April 26 - May 7, we detected the April Rho Cygnids (ARC), a meteor stream discovered by the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) project in the years 2002 - 2009. The stream is included in the IAU Working list of Meteor Showers as shower #348, awaiting verification. CMOR data show ARC activity from April 25 - May 4, peaking on April 28. We detected this shower on all dates, peaking on April 28 and May 1 in 2011. The orbital parameters we found match the CMOR data. Our mean orbital elements are (N = 29): q = 0.844 +/- 0.034 AU, 1/a = 0.18 +/- 0.10 1/AU, i = 69.7 +/- 2.8 deg, w = 130.4 +/- 6.2 deg, and Node = 39.9 +/- 2.9 deg. The parent body of the ARC remains unknown, but from the recent evolution of the stream, we provide a range of possible current orbits.

M. Phillips, P. Jenniskens, B. Grigsby, 2011. Confirmation of the April Rho Cygnids (ARC, IAU#348). JIMO 39, 131-136 [PDF]

2011, November 10 - An overview paper "CAMS: Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance to validate minor meteor showers", by P. Jenniskens, P. S. Gural, B. Grigsby, L. Dynneson, M. Koop, and D. Holman, has appeared in print in the journal Icarus. It contains the analysis of the first batch of CAMS data. [PDF]
From the peer review report: "Technically, the paper is very well laid out. Following a summary of the scientific rationale behind the observations, the authors go to (justifiably) great lengths to quantify the capabilities of the hardware and data reduction procedures and to demonstrate that these can carry out science-grade observations (which they do). They report on their confirmation or rejection of recently claimed new meteor showers in support of the latter objective."

P. Jenniskens, P. S. Gural, B. Grigsby, L. Dynneson, M. Koop, and D. Holman, 2011. CAMS: Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance to validate minor meteor showers. (Icarus 216, 40-61).


FED
This +2 magnitude February eta Draconid was filmed by Peter Jenniskens with one of the low-light-level video cameras of the Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) station in Mountain View, California, at 07:59:24 UT on February 4, 2011.

2011, July 10 - The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union today issued this TELEGRAM announcing the discovery of the February Eta Draconids. Although CAMS was designed to confirm previously discovered showers, a meteor outburst was detected in CAMS February 4 data from Fremont Peak (Rick Morales, Loren Dynneson, et al.) and Mountain View (Peter Jenniskens). This is the first new shower discovered by CAMS. It is also a very unusual shower, of a type that only occurs once or twice every sixty years and is caused by the dust trail of a (still to be discovered) Earth-threatening long-period comet. The new shower was named the February eta Draconids and is now listed as shower 427 in the IAU Working List of Meteor Showers. A paper on this discovery was submitted to the Journal of the International Meteor Organization [[read pre-print]].

P. Jenniskens, P. S. Gural, 2011. The discovery of the February eta Draconids (FED, IAU#427). JIMO 39, 93-97.


zodiacal cloud sources

The dust between the planets that scatters sunlight our way is not from the asteroid belt (depicted here in green), but from periodically disrupting comets that spend much of their time near the orbit of Jupiter ("V"), according to calculations by Nesvorny and Jenniskens. Illustration: SWRI/SETI Institute (Andrew Blanchard, David Nesvorny and Peter Jenniskens). Media: this image may be used for reporting on this work. Click on image for larger version.

2010, April 20 - [Press release] The eerie glow that straddles the night time zodiac is no longer a mystery. First explained by Joshua Childrey in 1661 as sunlight scattered in our direction by dust particles in the solar system, the source of that dust was long debated. In a paper to appear in the April 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, David Nesvorny and Peter Jenniskens put the stake in asteroids. More than 85 percent of the dust, they conclude, originated from Jupiter Family comets. [Read the paper]

zodiacal cloud

Zodiacal light and Jupiter, from near Tarcoola in southern Australia in the pre-dawn hours of June, 2010. Photo using 180 degree fisheye lens by Chris Kitting, CSU East Bay.

169P/NEAT

169P/NEAT

alpha Capricornids

alpha Capricornid

Top: Comet 169P/NEAT in an image by P. Birtwhistle on August 8.9, 2005, when the object showed a faint comet tail [Photo: P. Birtwhistle]. The object was discoverd in 2002 by the NEAT survey, categorised as asteroidal, and designated 2002 EX12. During the next return to Sun on 28 July 2005 (the comet taking about 4.2 years to circle the Sun), Brian Warner at the Palmer Divide Observatory first noticed that the object had developed a tail.

In the most recent 2010 return, the object looked mostly asteroidal again. Bottom picture shows a photograph on February 17, 2010, by Bernhard Haeusler, Maidbronn, Germany. Photo: Bernhard Haeusler.

Top: An alpha Capricornid photographed by Casper ter Kuile (Dutch Meteor Society) on August 4, 1995, at 23:16:27 UT. Breaks in the meteor trail are from a rotating camera shutter. Photo: Casper ter Kuile, DMS.

Bottom: A -5 magnitude alpha Capricornid photographed on July 29, 1990, at 23:09:30 UT by Klaas Jobse, Dutch Meteor Society. Photo: Klaas Jobse, DMS.


Media: These images may be used in reports. Please give the photo credit listed with each picture. Click on images for larger version.

2010, March 31 - It's parent body now identified, meteoroid stream models show that the main dust mass is moving towards Earth. The alpha Capricornid shower may become an annual meteor storm come 2370 AD, says a new paper by meteor astronomers Peter Jenniskens and Jeremie Vaubaillon in the Astronomical Journal Vol. 139 (2010) pages 1822-1830 (now online). [Read the paper]


2010, January 15 - In a paper submitted to Meteoritics and Planetary Science, the origin of the Geminid meteor shower is investigated. This work is part of a series of papers on the study of the meteorites recovered from asteroid 2008 TC3.


2009, November 17 - The 2009 Leonid shower outburst was observed from Nepal by Peter Jenniskens and Jeremie Vaubaillon. The outburst occurred much as predicted, but the exact time of the peak and the duration of the shower is expected to shed light on the past orbit of comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and the epoch of ejection of the observed dust. [YouTube report]


2008, October 07 - A small asteroid, named 2008 TC3, was discovered to be on an impact course with Earth. It impacted the Nubian Desert of Northern Sudan in the early morning of October 7. Two months later, on December 6, Peter Jenniskens and Muawia Shaddad searched the area in the company of 45 students and staff of the University of Khartoum and recovered remains of asteroid 2008 TC3. Results were published in a paper in Nature. Additional searches commenced in late December 2008, February/March 2009, and in December of 2009, following the 2008 TC3 workshop at the University of Khartoum [More here].


2008 ED69

2008, August 02 - The parent body of the kappa Cygnid meteor shower is identifed as 2008 ED69 in a paper by Peter Jenniskens and Jeremie Vaubaillon. [Read the paper]


SETI Institute logo Curator: Peter Jenniskens
Responsible NASA Official: Lindley Johnson (NEOO)

Last update: May 10, 2009
Hosted by: The SETI Institute