Draconid Meteor Project 2011

The British Astronomical Association is calling for help to investigate the Giacobinid—or October Draconid—meteor shower on Saturday 8th October.  The BAA believes that the stream of dust that the meteors come from is relatively young and they are looking for help to corroborate this.

The Giacobinids have produced strong meteor showers in several years over the past century, including two meteor storms in 1933 and 1946, but in many other years have been absent.  All cases took place when the parent comet, 21P/ Giacobini-Zinner, had come close to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.  This suggests that the dust stream is relatively young and still close to Giacobini-Zinner.  With the comet once again due to pass close to Earth’s orbit a good meteor shower is expected this year, though not on the scale of the 1933 or 1946 storms.

The BAA is looking for volunteers to record the meteor shower on the 7th, 8th and 9th October.  All that is required—if weather permits—is to sit outside and record the number of meteors seen (including any sporadics), their colour and behaviour (if they break up or leave a trail).  Unfortunately a gibbous moon will drown out the fainter meteors but some should still be visible.  Much more information on how to observe these meteors is included in a page on the BAA website.

Source: British Astronomical Association

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