Monday, October 7, 2013

Draconid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Image Credit NASA
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The 2013 Draconid Meteor Shower peaks tonight, October 7, 2013 and will continue its display through October 10, 2013.   


This annual October meteor shower peaks on the nights of October 7 and 8, 2013.  Thanks to a New Moon that occurred on October 4, 2013, the night sky will be relatively dark this year, making the draconids easier to spot.

 
 
Somewhat unpredictable, the amount of meteors from the Draconid Meteor Shower 2013 depends on the number and size of dust filaments left from from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.  Every 6.6 years, Comet Giacobini-Zinner swings through the inner solar system. With each visit, it lays down a narrow filament of dust, over time forming a network of filaments that Earth encounters every year in early October. 

If the Earth passes through gaps between the filament dust streams, there would hardly be any meteors to see.  If instead the Earth passes directly in the path of a filament, a display of over 100 meteors per hour could occur.

According to NASA, close encounters with dusty filaments produced storms of more than 10,000 Draconids per hour in 1933 and 1946 and lesser outbursts in 1985, 1998, and 2005. 

 
The Draconid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Draco because meteors appear to come from that constellation in the north sky just after sunset which is the best time to watch the Draconid Meteor Shower.  Unlike Orionids which are also active this time of year, Draconids are very slow moving meteors.