Updated: Perseid Meteor Outburst on August 14, 2021

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The late maximum of the Perseids can be clearly seen on August 14th on this graph of visual observers who submitted their observations to the International Meteor Organization. The clusters of observations around 00:00 UT each night are mainly those from European observers. The observations near 08:00UT are mainly from those from North America. The traditional maximum from August 12/13 does not appear due to the lack of observations from Asia. Courtesy the IMO.
This is a composite image of meteors captured from the San Diego area between 8-9 Universal Time (1:00-2:00am PDT) on August 14, 2014. This camera faces NE towards the radiant so meteors  can be seen shooting in all directions. Courtesy University of Arizona
This is a composite image of meteors captured from the San Diego area between 8-9 Universal Time (1:00-2:00am PDT) on August 14, 2014. This camera faces overhead and the radiant lies outside the frame to the right. The long streaks are aircraft. Courtesy University of Arizona

On the morning of August 14, 2021, the Perseid meteor shower displayed an unexpected outburst of meteors between 06:00 and 09:00 Universal Time (1:00-4:00am CDT). So far we have received visual confirmation of an impressive display of Perseids from observers in Wyoming and Ontario, Canada. AllSky camera systems located in Iowa have recorded between 900-1100 meteors each during the course of the entire night. My AllSky system, located outside of San Diego, CA,  recorded just under 600 meteors with cloud interference and a lower radiant altitude. The cause of this outburst is currently unknown but is probably the result of an unknown filament of comet debris produced by comet 109P/Swift–Tuttle as it raced through the inner solar system many centuries ago . Rates are normally 50 percent lower each preceding night after maximum but these rates are two to three times more than was seen during the expected maximum on the night of August 12/13. Peter Jenniskens, using his CAMS network of cameras, has calculated the time of maximum to be 08:14 Universal Time on August 14th. He believes that this outburst may be related to the lesser enhancements that occurred in 2018 an 2019. William J. Cooke, Head of the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office, stated ” We currently think this outburst was caused by very old material ejected from Comet Swift-Tuttle – way before 0 AD. This would also explain why no one predicted it, given that the Perseid stream models only go back a couple of thousands of years.”

This is a composite image of 282 Perseids captured by Pierre Martin between 0650 UT (02:50am EDT) and 0900 UT (05:00am EDT) on the night of August 13/14 2021. The equipment and image details: Canon 6D at ISO 6400, 20 sec exposures, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens. Setup was mounted on tripod unguided. 364 continuous exposures were made of which 282 meteors were found, and digitally combined into this image (a few additional Perseids were found but are not included here due to sky rotation). Sporadics and other minor shower meteors are not included. Photographed near Westmeath, Ontario.

References: https://www.meteornews.net/2021/08/14/strong-outburst-perseids-on-august-14-2021-06-09-ut/

Heather M. Wendelboe: Personal Communication

Michael Hankey: Personal Communication

William J. Cooke: Personal Communication via Michael Hankey

Pierre Martin: Personal Communication



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