• Draconids ("Giacobinids")

    What's Up in Space -- 9 Oct 2001


    The annual Giacobinid meteor shower (also known as the Draconids) peaks on October 9th and 10th. Most years the shower produces no more than a few shooting stars per hour for northern sky watchers. But there have been some impressive Giacobinid outbursts -- most recently in 1998. The shower's parent comet is far away, so this year's display will probably be modest.

    Giacobinids dazzle observers - The Giaconibid meteor shower made a great sky show over Japan, and East Asia. We follow up last week's report with results from sky watchers across the globe.

    Jiro Borovicka's page: raw graph of Draconid activity


    I M O   S h o w e r   C i r c u l a r

    DRACONIDS 1998

    Two orbital periods after the 1985 Draconid outburst, expectations were high for the night 1998 Oct 8-9. An outburst with activity of ZHR>500 occurred over Asian longitudes on 1998 October 8, 13h-14h UT. The informa- tion is based on visual reports as given by Koseki (Japan, 21 observers), a detailed report by Osada (Japan), reports from Xing Ming and Jin Zhu (China), a visual and video report by Jun-ichi Watanabe (Japan), radar observations by Simek (Czech Republic), radio observations by Ewen-Smith (Portugal) and Bus (the Netherlands).

    Details of the reports are as follows; all UT times refer to 1998 October 8, save for the last period:

    Report by Masahiro Koseki (Japan, visual):
    Period(UT) ZHR  +- [standard deviation]
    0900-1000   14   6 (ZHRs were reported
    1000-1100   23  11  by Koseki)
    1100-1200   61  43
    1200-1300  147  55
    1300-1400  371 243
    1400-1500  174 123
    1500-1600  121  72
    Detailed report by Kazuhiro Osada (Japan, visual):
    Period(UT) ZHR  +- [1/sqrt(n)]
    1050-1130  154  33
    1240-1250  901 144
    1250-1300  867 144
    1300-1310 1082 165
    1310-1320 1265 183
    1320-1330  968 164
    1330-1340  640 136
    1340-1350  442 123
    1350-1400  575 144
    1400-1410  457 132
    1410-1420  323 114 radiant below 20deg henceforth
    1420-1430  302 114
    1430-1440  193 136
    Report by Jin Zhu (China, visual):
    Period(UT) ZHR  +- [1/sqrt(n)]
    1143-1227  230  45
    Report by Jun-ichi Watanabe (Japa, visual-video):
    1200-1330  ZHR>200
    1300-1330  28 GIA on TV monitor with lm~6.0 and a
               field of view of 40deg x 20deg
    Report by Zhou Xing Ming (China, visual):
    Period(UT) ZHR  +- [1/sqrt(n)]
    1336-1421  562  53
    Report by Milos Simek (Czech Republic, radar):
    1330       maximum of 400 events per hour at unfavourable
               radiant geometry
    Report by Bev Ewen-Smith (Portugal, radio):
        -1000  no enhancement
    1000-1200  increase of short events (<10sec)
    1200-1400  4 events (10-20sec) per minute
    1400-1415  decrease of short events, a few very large events (1min)
    Report by Eisse Peter Bus (the Netherlands, radio):
    0700-0800   9  events >1sec
    0800-0900  14
    0900-1000  28
    1000-1100  33
    1100-1200  64
    1200-1300  97  maximum suggested at 1245 UT
    1300-1400  90
    1400-1500  31
    Report by Ilan Manulis (Israel, visual):
    1541-1741  5-7 per hour, group observation
    1741-1836  1-2 per hour, lm=5.5-6.0
    European results (visual):
    Period(UT) nGIA  ZHR
    1715-1815   7    24  Helle Jaaniste (JAAHE), Estonia
    1745-1818   2     6  Jurgen Rendtel (RENJU), Germany
    1750-1821   4    15  Rainer Arlt (ARLRA), Germany
    1818-1855   3     8  Jurgen Rendtel (RENJU)
    1821-1853   2     7  Rainer Arlt (ARLRA)
    1817-1913   7    12  Marco Langbroek (LANMA), the Netherlands
    1833-1903   4    21  Ike Lysell (LYSAK), Sweden
    1837-1926   4    10  Enrico Stomeo (STOEN), Italy
    1855-1930   0     -  Jurgen Rendtel (RENJU)
    1853-1931   0     -  Rainer Arlt (ARLRA)
    1845-1945   7    40  Jaak Jaaniste (JAAJA), Estonia
    1912-1926   0     -  Stephen McCann, UK
    2010-2045   2    13  Erico Stomeo (STOEN)
    2242-2247   0     -  Jurgen Rendtel (RENJU)
    0250-0330   0     -  M. Linnolt, California, USA  [1998 Oct 9]
    If not explicitely mentioned otherwise, ZHRs were calculated by myself with r=2.0, alpha=262, delta=+54. A high proportion of faint meteors were reported during the peak; the ZHRs may thus be underestimated. We can conclude that the Draconid maximum occurred at lambda_sol=195.078+-0.010 degress (eq. 2000.0).

    Rainer Arlt, 1998 Oct 9

    October 9, 1998

    Jin Zhu reporting from Xinglong, Hebei, China saw 26 Giacobinids (Draconids) between 11:43 and 12:27 Universal Time. Radio rates obtained from Europe also showed high activity of the Draconids (Giacobinids) between 13:00 and 14:00 UT. But thereafter rates must have fallen down to low levels. Between 17:50 and 19:31 only 6 Draconids were seen in Europe. Later on only occasional and therefore probably sporadic meteors were observed.

    Carl Koppeschaar

    October 7: Tune-up for the Leonids

    1998 October Draconid prospects?

    Draconids ("Giacobinids")

    The 1998 Draconids and Leonids


    Giacobinids preview

    Meteor Shower Database


    On the evening of October 8th, there is a chance to observe a meteor shower of the Draconids. The Dracondis are debris from the periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner and are therefore also known as the "Giacobinids". Their radiant (apparent point of origin at the sky) is near the head of the constellation Draco, which has its highest point right after dark at midnorthern latitudes. So Europe will have a ringside seat.

    The Draconids produced spectacular meteor showers in 1933 and 1946 when a zenithal hour rate of some 10,000 meteors per hour was observed. Lesser showers occured in 1926, 1952 and 1985. The big showers took place in years when the parent comet was nearby. As Giacobini-Zinner again reaches perihelion in November this year, it is expected that activity might occur.

    The Earth will pass 50 days ahead of the comet's orbit on October 8 at roughly 21 UT. This may be too far away for any significant Draconid activity to occur. However, in past cases the meteor activity always lasted for only a few hours with highest rates for only a few minutes. So watch to see if anything might happen. As others predict 17:45 UT as the possible peak location, it is advised to be alert right after evening twilight fades away into the night.

    If no Draconid shower is to be seen, an almost certain opportunity of observing a genuine meteor shower will come next month, when the Leonid meteors may display 'storm' activity on November 17!

    Carl Koppeschaar

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