Meteor Activity from Comet ISON?

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Radiant Area for Possible ISONids Meteors

Radiant Area for Possible ISONids Meteors

There have been several articles published about the possibility of meteor activity from Comet C/2012 S1 ISON. During the inbound portion of the comet’s orbit, the comet passed approximately 2 million miles from the Earth’s orbit. The Earth arrives at this point on January 15, 2014. Normally, this distance is too great to produce meteor activity on Earth.

Comet ISON was producing a large amount of dust prior to its disintegration. Some feel that despite the distance that some of this dust may still reach the Earth. Now whether it is in the form of meteors or noctilucent clouds is unknown. The individual dust particles are calculated to be only a few microns in size, too small to produce meteors bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. Yet meteor observers are encouraged to view any possible display of meteor activity despite the full moon.

While the probability of meteor activity is remote, it is not 100% out of the question. The calculated radiant would lie in the constellation of Leo the lion, which rises during the early evening hours and is best situated highest in the sky near 0200 local standard time. These meteors, if any, would strike the atmosphere at a speed of 51km/sec., which is a medium-fast meteor with an average duration of less than 1 second.

Radiant Positions at Midnight Local Standard Time

Radiant Positions at Midnight Local Standard Time
(click for full size)

Radiant Positions at 5am Local Standard Time

Radiant Positions at 5am Local Standard Time
(click for full size)

If you attempt any observations during the time, be certain to share your data (whether positive or negative) with us!



  • e8hffff 11 years ago

    Good to see Robert you kept an open mind to possibilities. some are suggesting activity could start around the 11th of January and extend for a month or more, especially concerning the departing wide trail of ISON.

    Reply to e8hffff
  • Kevin Martin 11 years ago

    I witnessed a huge meteor coming from what appear to be travelling from a southeastern direction at approx 20:40 hours mountain time, i’m located in Alberta Canada. It lasted between 2-3 seconds and omitted very bright display of white and orange etching light then burned out before leaving my site on the horizon, either burning up completely or possibly making it to earth. If you have any further question do not hesitate to ask, i think its great you are interested in my information and am i fan of your webpage, great work!!! keep the data coming!

    Reply to Kevin
    • Ben 11 years ago

      Ayyyy same here about the same time you did today, in daylight (it stood out and I live in Texas). It had no tail of smoke or anything, it looked like something burning falling to earth…. It eventually disappeared to my eye, I almost wanna say it burned out, but I was in a car

      Reply to Ben
  • Jeff Sullivan 11 years ago

    I’ve shot sequences of photos and converted them into time-lapse videos on roughly 40 nights over the past 5 years, so it sounded like a fun challenge to try to pick up any small, faint flashes of debris from Comet ISON. Here’s the time-lapse video on YouTube:

    I caught a lot of satellites, a few meteors, and some faint flashes which mostly don’t show up well by the time youTube compresses the video for re-transmission. Meteors show up better as flashes from one image to the next so video can be a valuable tool, but cropping and re-sampling a 22 megapixel image to HD (2 megapixels) does further complicate the quest.

    I probably won’t be able to fully examine the data in detail until I remaster the sequence in “4k” video (8 megapixels), and of course have a matching 4096 or 3840 resolution display. Has anyone confirmed a meteor shower from ISON (with radio perhaps)? It would help me decide whether further investigation into the visual data might be worthwhile (perhaps a 4X crop to get to the individual pixels in lieu of waiting for a 4X greater resolution display and the compute power to match).

    I did catch a really nice big meteor next to Leo while tracking the constellation across the sky on the 13th. Its length and the trajectory of a second meteor 10 minutes earlier seem to imply that they were late Quadrantids:

    Reply to Jeff
  • patty 11 years ago

    I live in Laredo, Texas and this past Monday morning as I was driving to work at 7:10 me and my daughter saw a beautiful intense light blazing through the sky with a greenish tone to it and I stared frozen at it for like maybe 5 to 7 seconds that it lasted. Now I’m all hooked on knowing more about this. Wether it is debris from ISON or not.

    Reply to patty
    • amsadmin 11 years ago

      Patty and All,

      There have been no positive reports of any activity produced by Comet ISON. Your fireball was most likely a random event.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Dale Ricketts 11 years ago

    Large meteor seenby many in East Midlands / Yorkshire in UK yesterday. Approx 2030 Hrs GMT. Travelling left to right, high to low before burning out wen facing a NE direction. Long tail, green / blue in colour. Lasting 2-3 seconds and brighter than the moon.

    Reply to Dale
  • Tammie Barker 11 years ago

    Yesterday there was a loud BOOM around 4:30 p.m. and then again at 8:30 p.m. There were reports of seeing fireballs all around Kentucky.. I was on the phone with my sister and she lives about 10 miles away and I heard in on her side of the phone at the same time we felt it, It sounded like just a big BOOM.. That is the only way that I could describe it.

    Reply to Tammie

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