Posts Tagged ‘draco’


A good year to watch the Draconid meteor shower

October 6, 2011

by tte-77

Taken from yaska77’s Astronomy Events – October 2011 post.

Saturday 8th OctoberThe annual Draconid meteor shower (also known as the Giacobinids) should reach its peak this evening (the height of activity expected between 16:00 and 22:00 UTC/GMT), with calculations suggesting we could be in for an outstanding display. The ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) could range from a few tens of meteors per hour to several hundred

Here is a little extra on the Draconid meteor shower to help with locating Draco the Dragon, the Dragon’s eyes and the showers radiant point.

The Draconid meteor shower is an amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

The Draconid meteor shower is an amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

The Draconid meteor shower generally favours northerly latitudes. The best viewing of the meteors will mostly be at early to mid evening on Saturday 8th October – this is when the radiant point for the shower located in the constellation Draco the Dragon will be highest in the sky for that night. The most meteors tend to fall when radiant point is highest in the sky.

Although it is not essential to identify the meteor shower radiant to watch the Draconids as they streak all over the sky, doing so does allow you to trace the paths of the meteors backward – you will notice how they appear to radiate from the Dragon’s head!

See the image below to locate the Dragon’s eyes. Locate the two brightest stars in the constellation (Eltanin and Rastaban) to see the radiant point of the Draconid meteor shower.


The sky at 20:00 UTC/GMT 8th October 2011 showing the constellation of Draco to the north west (click to enlarge) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching

The radiant will fall downward during the night reaching its lowest point around dawn, as seen from all points in the northern hemisphere.

So from early to mid evening on Saturday will probably provide the greatest number of meteors with the 2011 shower possibly producing a meteor storm of several hundred meteors per hour at its peak! The best locations are said to be Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The one downside is that in the south there will be a bright moon with its light possibly affecting the view of the shower.

Get outside if you get a chance and go view!


Set a reminder – Draconid meteor shower in October

July 5, 2011

by tte-77

An amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

Canadian astronomer Paul Wiegert announced at a meeting of professional astronomers in Canada that the annual Draconid meteor shower might produce unusually high peak meteor rates of 1,000 per hour on 8 October, 2011!

Update posted 6th October. Click here to read about locating and viewing the Draconids.

An astronomer at the University of Western Ontario, Paul Wiegerts specialty is solar system dynamics – conducting numerical analyses of the way objects in our solar system move especially smaller bodies like asteroids, comets and meteoroid streams.

Like most meteors in annual showers, any fiery Draconid meteors seen streaking across the night sky actually started in a meteoroid stream in space – a river of icy, rocky debris left behind in the orbit of a comet. The Draconid shower originates from the comet Giacobini-Zinner.

Known for over 100 years, the Giacobini-Zinner comet takes about 6.6 years to orbit our sun once. Astronomer Paul Wiegert, having analysed the movement of Giacobini-Zinner and its meteoroid stream has determined that conditions will line up just right in 2011 enabling us to see a spectacular Draconid meteor shower.

Can’t wait for 8 October?

The peak of the shower is extremely narrow and should last for only one hour. The 2011 Draconid outburst is expected to occur between 17:00  and 18:00  Universal Time – let’s hope for at least a little bit of dark!

The best locations from which to view the primarily northern hemisphere event will be Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

One little drawback… maybe? The moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase on 8 October.  A large bright moon can (not will) drown out a meteor shower.

Fear not. The shower is expected to continue to produce meteors, albeit at a reduced level, into the evening of 8 October so later on in the evening will still have a chance to see a stronger-than-usual Draconid meteor shower.

Set a reminder, cross your fingers and have your cameras on the ready!


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