A lot of Linton residents will love to see the upcoming Draconid meteor shower when it peaks on the evening of October 8th. It is a few weeks away, so be sure to mark your calendars and set phone alarms to help remind you.
But what is a meteor shower anyway?
Meteor showers are caused when the Earth passes through a cloud of comet debris. The Draconid meteor shower is produced from the comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner debris. Usually, meteors shower are described as shooting stars, even though they have no connection with the stars, actually. A typical meteor comes from the least-sized of particles that vaporize when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere at about 134,000mph. The point or position of view often makes meteors appear to originate from a single point in the sky, which is called the shower radiant. Any meteor as big as a grape, for example, will create a fireball, which is often trailed by a continuous radiance known as a meteor train. In the case of The Draconids, they are also called Giacobinids, named after Michel Giacobini, who discovered the comet from which the Draconid meteors are produced.
What Makes Draconid a Special Event?
The peculiarity of the Draconid shower is that its best visible radiance in the sky is as darkness falls, which makes them different from other showers. This means that more Draconids are likely to be produced in the late evening hours than in the morning-afternoon. They are best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, though you can still see them in the Southern Hemisphere.
Draconid showers are known to be a sleeper, as you can hardly see more than five meteors per hour; however, some rare occurrences were experienced in 1933 and 1946, which exposed the Draconid’s unpredictable nature. During those years, the Draconid shower produced breathtaking meteors, and stargazers were able to enjoy thousands of meteors per hour. Later in 2011, some spectators in Europe witnessed over 600 meteors per hour, which is certainly not anything to disappoint.
What could be in stock for 2021?
The comet producing the Draconid has an orbital cycle of about seven years with the next one arriving in 2025. So we shouldn’t be expecting a blast of several meteors this year. But, then, anything could happen. And, for enthusiasts that love these meteor shower events, the uncertainty is all part of the fun! They always have their mat ready for outdoor viewing, so they wouldn’t miss any action regardless.
As a fellow Lintonian, here are a few tips for you to enjoy the upcoming Draconid meteor:
- It is best if you can head out of town to avoid city lights that would make it otherwise hard to see meteors, set out in search of dark skies outside the city.
- Wear warm clothes for outdoor viewing, as the Draconid is happening in October, which might be a little cold compared to the recent summer heat wave. Let us hope at least!
- Lie down on a blanket and get comfortable to see the full sky facing up.
- Pack some hot chocolate, snacks, or coffee.
- Be patient. It might take some time before you see your first Draconid meteor. Don’t give up too quickly.
Featured photo by Raman deep from Pexels