The International Meteor Organization (IMO) was founded in 1988 and has more than 250 members now. IMO was created in response to an ever growing need for international cooperation of meteor amateur work. The collection of meteor observations by several methods from all around the world ensures the comprehensive study of meteor showers and their relation to comets and interplanetary dust.
You can read about the history, current aims and commissions of IMO. An additional page informs you about how to become a member the International Meteor Organization. Membership includes a subscription to WGN, the journal of the IMO.
Short term meteor activity outlook - Report your observations - Live ZHR graphs - Data archives - Observing handbook - Annual conference
The June 2014 issue of the IMO Journal is now in print. It will be mailed shortly and subscribers can also immediately access the journal in PDF format. The contents this month:
Front cover photo: Frame-by-frame development of a Camelopardalid on 2014 May 24 at 01h58m08s UT. Original recording by Peter C. Slansky; compilation by Jim Albers and Peter Jenniskens.
The sky may erupt on May 24 in one of the strongest meteor showers of the past decade. On May 24 the Earth intersects a number of dust trails by comet 209P/LINEAR. Such an encounter would usually promise an exceptionally strong meteor shower, but things are much more complicated with this meteor shower.
On May 24 around 7-8h UT the Earth intersects a large number of dust trails released by comet 209P/LINEAR. This event is expected to result in a potentially significant meteor shower, which may be one of the strongest in the past decade. But very little is known about the meteoroid stream that may produce the shower and anything is possible, from a barely detectable shower to a very strong outburst. The radiant of the shower, the point from which the meteors apparently radiate from is in the large, but inconspicuous constellation of Camelopardalis. The radiant is located about 10° southwest of Polaris, nearly halfway between the brightest star in Ursa Major (Big Dipper) – Dubhe and Cassiopea (RA 125°, Dec +79°). Contrary to well known annual meteor showers, such as the Perseids, Orionids and Geminids, the Camelopardalids will be very slow with their velocity being only 18 km/s.
View towards the north on May 24, 7:30 UT from Toronto. The radiant is marked with the red circle. Note the rising waning crescent Moon.
The timing of the peak, May 24 7-8h UT (2-3h EST, 1-2h CST) favours the North American continent. The radiant is circumpolar – it never sets – for latitudes above 11 °N. The best conditions will be found where the radiant is highest in a dark sky. The best locations will be near the USA-Canada border east of North Dakota. Locations further west and south will have the radiant lower in the sky and will consequently see less meteors. Locations further north will never have a fully dark sky as the Sun never goes deep enough below the horizon. Any early or late activity of the meteor shower may be visible over European and Pacific longitudes, respectively. At the time of the peak, the constellation of Camelopardalis will be at its lowest in the sky, directly below Polaris.
Visibility of the Camelopardalids. Image courtesy: Geert Barentsen.
The April 2014 issue of the IMO Journal is now in print. It will be mailed shortly and subscribers can also immediately access the journal in PDF format. The contents this month:
Front cover photo: September ε-Perseids fireball photographed on 2013 September 9 from Gahberg observatory in Austria. Photo courtesy: Erwin Filimon.
The Eta Aquariids reach peak activity over the next few nights, providing one of the best meteoric displays for the southern hemisphere and a special treat for observers in the northern hemisphere. The activity graph below is updated every 15 minutes - click for details.
The period May 4 – 8 sees the peak of activity of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. This is the strongest meteor shower of the south celestial hemisphere and is also best observed from the southern hemisphere. The shower is caused by meteoroids (small crumbs) of the most famous of all periodic comets - 1P/Halley. This shower's radiant, the apparent point where the meteors fly out or radiate from (hence the name) is in constellation Aquarius. More precisely the radiant is located close to the conspicuous ''Mercedes'' asterism of four 3rd magnitude stars. While Eta Aquariids can appear anywhere in the sky, tracing their paths backwards will intersect the radiant. At 66 km/s the Eta Aquariids are very fast meteors which often leave persistent trains.
Position of the Eta Aquariid radiant as listed in the IMO meteor shower calendar.
Being a southern hemisphere meteor shower the Eta Aquariids are best seen from the southern hemisphere. The radiant rises in the morning, so only in the final two hours or so before dawn will any Eta Aquariids be visible. Evening and midnight hours will be devoid of Eta Aquariids. The shower’s peak ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) is somewhat variable, ranging from 50 to 80 meteors per hour. In 2013, however, there was a significant activity outburst as the ZHR reached approximately 130 meteors per hour with a high proportion of bright meteors.
Preliminary ZHR (activity) graph of Eta Aquariids in 2013. More information on the 2013 shower on the "live" page.
Higher northern latitudes will see low activity from the Eta Aquariids as the radiant never rises high above the horizon. However, active meteor showers with their radiant near the horizon provide a special visual treat for observers – the so-called “Earth grazers”. These are meteors that strike our atmosphere nearly tangentially, skimming its higher parts. Such meteors are exceptionally long, stretching halfway or nearly across the entire sky and lasting for several seconds. While only a few of these will be visible when the radiant is low, each will be spectacular! Good luck with your observations!
To observe the Eta Aquariids, you need to dress warm, bring a reclining chair and watch the sky. You need no other equipment. If you decide to do so, use the IMO major meteor shower observing technique. This way your data will be in a standard format, that can readily be used for analysis. Send us your data as soon after the observations as posssible.
The 2013 outburst of the Eta Aquariids was caused by several old dust trails the Earth encountered. Mikiya Sato posted a warning for observers on "meteorobs" mailing list two days before the peak about the possible increase in activity. The Earth encountered dust trails released in 1197 and 970 BC with additional meteoroids from 1403, 1333, 1265, 1128, 985 and 835 BC. No predictions are available for 2014 at this time.