The Draconids can produce very high rates when parent comet is near perihelion but that won’t be till 2025. Although high rates are by no means guaranteed, this shower often generates a lot of interest in the media.
|Main Activity Dates||Oct 7-10|
|Peak Rates||Oct 8 – 9|
|Best Observed Rates||Evening of Oct 8–9|
|Visibility each night (UK)||Before midnigh|
|Moonlight issues at maximum||Major – waxing gibbous|
The Draconids, also known as the Giacobinids (due to their link with Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner), produced meteor storms in 1933 and 1946, along with strong activity in 1985, 1998 and 2011. In most years very little activity is seen. Predictions vary, but an increase in rates could occur sometime between 23h 30 and 00h 15m on October 8–9 (Mon-Tue), with predicted ZHRs between 15 and 50. However, these predictions are by no means guaranteed, so observe with an open mind! The presence of moonlight will an issue.
The Draconid radiant, at RA 17h28m, Dec +54, lies just to the right of the head of Draco (see the chart below). Draconid meteors are slow moving – a feature that should allow them to be readily distinguished from any sporadic meteors that might by chance line up with the Draconid radiant.
From the UK, the Draconid radiant is above the horizon all night and is highest in the sky during the early evening hours.
The shower occurs when the Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and tends to be strongest if the orbits intersect shortly after the comet’s perihelion. This comet was discovered in 1900 by Giacobini and reidentified in 1913 by Zinner. It has a period of 6.6 years and will next be at perihelion in 2025. On rare occasions, when the peak coincides with perihelion, the rate has shot up to hundreds of meteors an hour!