October Meteor Watch

David North

First up is the Draconids from October 6-10, a periodic shower.

Twice this century, the Draconid radiant produced two brief but spectacular meteor storms in 1933 and 1946. In several other years, lower rates were also observed.

Detectable activity has only been seen in years when the streams parent comet, 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, has returned to perihelion.

Whether high rates will be observed during any year is anybody's guess, but it would be worthwhile to observe on the nights of October 8th and 9th just in case. A new moon favors any Draconids that may appear.

The radiant is near Draco's head and will be circumpolar from many locations.

This is a rare event for meteor watchers due to the location of Draco high in the sky right after sunset. Your best bet would be to start observing then for about 3 or 4 hours as the radiant will be getting lower in the sky as the evening progresses.

Usually, it's best to hang around until the early morning hours, but that won't be the case this time!

Any meteors seen will appear Very Slow.

Next, the Orionids: the incoming (pre-perihelion) particles from Halley's comet. This shower is active throughout October and reaches its maximum activity between October 17 and 25.

This year there will be near full moon conditions on the peak night of Oct 21/22, bad news.

Under dark skies the highest hourly rates average near 20 but occasionally reaches 40 - so this won't really be much to see, in all odds. Under these moonlit conditions, expect at best about six Orionids/hr.

Most Orionid meteors are faint, so...

David North; last updated: October 03, 2007 Prev Next