Just about as predicted, the irregular, temperamental Draconid meteor shower put on a display during evening hours for Europe on Saturday, October 8, 2011. North America was in afternoon daylight at the time.

Dramatic Draconid

A Draconid meteor bursts across the field of the robotic Liverpool Telescope on La Palma (Canary Islands) and leaves a persistent, glowing train. The normally quiet Draconid shower surged as predicted on October 8, 2011.

Geert Barentsen / IMO

Despite the bright light of the waxing gibbous Moon, 59 meteor observers so far have submitted counts to the International Meteor Organization. The IMO is reducing and graphing them in real time. These counts show a peak zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of more than 300 per hour centered on about 20:00 Universal Time. There was a fairly steady rise and fall in the meteor counts for an hour or two before and afterward.

That ZHR number includes large, somewhat uncertain corrections to people's counts for the loss of faint meteors to the moonlight. The numbers that meteor watchers actually saw were usually less, though news reports are sometimes claiming more.

See lots of pictures at Spaceweather.com.

Early word from the airborne observing campaigns organized by two European teams suggest that an early, weak outburst was not seen but that that the main peak was much as predicted. Apparently there were many oohs and aahs from meteors and an aurora. Peter Jenniskens reports that 28 Draconids were triangulated from sets of images taken at Kühlungsborn and Lebatz in Germany. These yielded a calculated radiant position proving that this year's outburst were indeed dust ejected in 1900 by the shower's parent comet, 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

Keep watch on Jérémie Vaubaillon's website for the campaign for updates. Also check Jenniskens' site.


Image of Michael C. Emmert

Michael C. Emmert

October 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Good read here and a great photo of the trail. Is that a vapor trail or dust?

I look forward to the Orionids later this month. Being a denizen of North America (The Banana Republic of Texas) I missed out on the Draconids. My luck with meteor showers and rain showers has been incredibly dismal and I hope for better luck on the 22nd.

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Image of Anko Verburg

Anko Verburg

October 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Great pictures, we only got lots of clouds and moonlight.
Very interesting pictures though, but no meteors captured by the camera. Fortunatly our eyes were much better served 😉
Paul, Arthur, Anko

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