Hunting the Elusive Camelopardalids

Aurora & Light Pollution from Cypress Hills Park, Alberta

The Milky Way, an odd aurora, and the glow of urban light pollution lit the sky. But alas, no meteors!

On Friday afternoon, May 23 I headed 3 hours east of home toward the clearest skies in the province. The quest was for sightings of the Camelopardalid meteors, the new and much publicized meteor shower from Comet LINEAR, 209/P that had been predicted for tonight.

I had very good skies for the first couple of hours of darkness, from a viewpoint looking north over the prairies on the high rim of the Cypress Hills, Alberta. Clouds did move in about 12:30 a.m., about the time the shower was to be peaking. But up to that point I had sighted just a handful of meteors and many were likely random ones, as they didn’t seem to be streaking out of the radiant point. A few other people who had converged at the site saw other meteors to the south that might have been shower members.

Perhaps the peak came later under cover of clouds. But up to 12:30 a.m. I saw little sign of an active shower. Still, it was worth taking the chance to chase into clear skies in hopes of bagging a herd of Camelopardalids.

I shot hundreds of frames with two cameras and none picked up a Cam meteor – lots of satellites, like the streak at lower centre. And for a few minutes this strange white auroral curtain appeared, slowly drifting from east to west across the northern sky, like a searchlight, above the magenta horizon glow of low-level aurora. To the northwest glowed the lights of Medicine Hat, illuminating the clouds toxic yellow in a classic demonstration of light pollution.

– Alan, May 24, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer



4 Replies to “Hunting the Elusive Camelopardalids”

  1. The trail, likely connected to the launch of a new Japanese mapping satellite expands and fades minutes later. You never know what you might see when you look up at night. Credit: Bob King Quickly I reset the camera and got a couple shots off as the apparition drifted at slow-satellite speed to the north. The ray fanned out and lingered like a lone beam of northern lights for the next 10 minutes. Fortunately I wasn’t abducted. This morning I learned that the sight was connected to fuel dump after the launch of a Japanese mapping satellite – See more at:

  2. Welcome back from your southern hemisphere travels. We do hope you had a great time, as some of your posts have suggested.

    We too had to travel East to see the expected event. With thundershowers expected in the Red Deer area, we started out for the purported clear skies over Rosetown, Saskatchewan. With clear skies near Kindersley, we ended up 10-15 kms North of Fiske. (The weather report for Cypress Hills wasn’t great, neither was the report for either Grasslands National Park blocks).

    While setting up, Marion pointed out the “Faux Auroras” as it happened. Having never seen this before, we thought it was an Auroras Borealis. Quickly setting up a Canon T3 with a 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens, the time lapse photography set up was the first equipment deployed.
    Having brought the Nexstar 6SE SCT with us, within 20 minutes upon arrival Marion was on her way, spotting planets, nebula & galaxies close by, while on a sky tour. During which I set up another Canon camera, this time our 60Da with a 58mm F2.5 wide angle lens, ready for the show to begin.

    Well Alan, I think you know what happened next…

    Few true meteor’s actually originated from the area of concern. While a few faint trails were captured, we photographed more satellites & the ISS, than we did remains of a comet’s past travels. Overall, it was a good night under mostly clear skies. When the meteor shower seemed to falter, we made the best of the trip, capturing about 150 photos of transversing satellites & the ISS, which was unexpected. We stayed until the waning 1/4 moon made it’s early morning appearance, rising through the low lying clouds with a dusky red hue, telling us daylight wasn’t too far off & time to pack up for the trip home.

    Thank-You for the wonderful photos & stories of your latest adventures. We hope to see you sometime over the summer, or at your next seminar in Alberta. Until then, all the best, Cheers!

    Kevin & Marion.

  3. I’m noticing that many of the images on the web purported to be of Camelopardalid meteors aren’t shower members — they are going the wrong way to be coming from the radiant point high in the north by Polaris. People captured a lot of sporadic random meteors.

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