Chi Cygnids

A new meteor shower has been (provisionally) recognised and my meteor camera is playing a small part. Firstly, meteor observers around the world received a request that we should carefully check our data following a report of an “outburst”. This is not as spectacular as it sounds, simply that observers had noticed a number of meteors from the same part of the sky – too many to occur by chance.

P. Jenniskens, SETI Institute, reports the detection of an outburst from
a new Jupiter-family comet shower, the chi Cygnids (given IAU number 757 and
abbreviation CCY). Martin Breukers and Carl Johannink first noticed five
nearly identical orbits in multi-station video observations of the CAMS
BeNeLux network in the observing interval Sept. 14d19h23m-15d03h35m UT.
Partial results from the CAMS California network add four meteors in the
observing interval Sept. 15d03h10m-15d12h45m. The nine meteors detected
appeared between Sept. 14d21h and 15d11h UT (solar longitude 171.54-172.08
deg). The geocentric radiant is at R.A. = 301.0 +/- 2.2 deg, Decl. =
+32.6 +/- 1.6 deg (equinox 2000.0), with velocity v_g = 15.1 +/- 0.9 km/s.
The median orbital elements are (N = 9): q = 0.949 +/- 0.003 AU, a = 2.75
+/- 0.40 AU, e = 0.655 +/- 0.041, i = 18.6 +/- 1.6 deg, Peri. = 209.9 +/-
1.9 deg, Node = 171.64 +/- 0.23 deg (equinox 2000.0).

Confirmation of the outburst was found in the near-real time CMOR radar
observations (P. Brown et al., University of Western Ontario), which are
posted at website URL The
24-hr averaged maps showed a small concentration of radiants at this
position during the observing period 15d05h15m-15d20h15m UT.

We were asked to analyse and send in video observations from around 15 September. I had already sent mine. Jakub Koukal (from the Czech Republic, who co-ordinates EDMOND the European database of meteor observations) then sent an email to Richard, another member of UKMON:

 … now i have one orbit of 757CCY (20150914_202235) between your east camera (Wilcot E) and Horley SE. After collecting all data, it will be time for recalculating elements. I found overall 51 orbits in EDMOND database from year 2007, with another outburst in 2010. This means that this shower is annual, with low activity between returns of potential parent body (comet from Jupiter´s family), and with outburst during perihelion passage of potential parent body (~5 years) – something like Draconids or Leonids. In attachment is confirmation (provisional) of this shower, based on current data, which i have.


It looks as if the Chi Cygnids is a small meteor shower which peaks every five years to coincide with the return of an (as yet unidentified) comet which leaves debris in its orbit. If this is eventually confirmed, one meteor observation from my camera will be among a hundred or so which were used to identify the shower.

New meteor showers are being recognised all the time, partly as a result of good data from observations made with simple video equipment. It is a minor discovery. It will not change the world, but in a tiny way, has changed our understanding of it. I am pleased to have been part of real science, with lots of other amateurs and a few professionals co-operating around the world. That’s quite a good feeling!