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Draconid meteor shower: Wow! Sorry you missed it

October 9, 2011 |  9:03 am

The Giacobini-Zinner comet is responsible for the Draconids

The Draconid meteor shower came Saturday as predicted, lasting for several hours and streaking the darkening sky with trails of light.

NASA had predicted a display that would be, at times, dazzling. Global observers were reporting that the show was more faint than expected, but there were some outstanding moments.

Too bad we missed it. The timing of the light show was lousy for the U.S., with the strongest activity in the afternoon Eastern time.

There was a peak rate of about 660 meteors an hour, according to SpaceWeather.com. The site has reader photos from countries including Norway, Czech Republic and Britain. In Denmark, Jesper Gronne posted a photo and wrote: "At 22:34 local time in Denmark (UT+2) a nice faint reddish aurora turned up, to join the Draconids and the bright moonlight."

As Nation Now reported Friday, although Draconid meteors may be faint, they tend to move across the sky at a leisurely pace. The celestial outburst is a regular fall occurrence:

The Draconid occurs each October as Earth passes through a trail of dust left by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The comet circles the sun every 6.6 years, and each time it circles, it leaves a ribbon — or filament — of space dust behind it. Here on Earth, we see streaks of light whenever a piece of that dust encounters Earth's atmosphere.

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-- Amy Hubbard

Image: A photo illustration shows the comet that is responsible for the Draconid meteors. Credit: National Optical Astronomy Observatory / Associated Press

 

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