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2016 Dracodin Meteor Shower in October

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Event: -
This meteor shower has big slow moving shooting stars
The Draconid Meteor shower graces our skies every year in October. Their name comes from the constellation Draco the Dragon, where they appear to originate from in the sky.

Photo courtesy of Ed Sweeney at Flickr
Photo courtesy of Ed Sweeney at Flickr


About the Draconids Meteor Shower

This meteor shower visits us every October as the Earth passes through the tail of Comet 21 P/Giacobini-Zinner. So this shower is sometimes referred to as the Giacobinids Meteor Shower.

Photo of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner courtesy of Nasa/JPL
Photo of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner courtesy of Nasa/JPL


These slow moving meteors are not the most exciting of meteor showers. In fact there may only be a few per hour. But there is a good chance that if you spot one, it will be bright and be very spectacular. If you are lucky you may even see an extra bright shooting star or even one that breaks up into multiple shooting stars as it enters the atmosphere.

Viewing the Meteor Shower

The peak for this meteor show is the 7th and 8th of October. Normally I would list about a month around a meteor shower to go shooting star spotting, but with the Draconids you really want to focus on those 2 days. Luckily there fall on a weekend.

For Australia, the best time to view the shower will be a bit after 7 pm. Look to the the horizon just a little west of north. You probably want to get up high as the meteors will be very low in the sky, around 0.7 degrees.

Remember that you want to let your eyes adjust to the dark or you won't have much chance of seeing anything. You will need to give your eyes about 10 to 20 minutes to adjust, so please, no checking your mobile phone every few minutes and no torches.

Photo courtesy of Steve Ryan at Flickr
Photo courtesy of Steve Ryan at Flickr


The shooting stars appear to originate from the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon, but you don't have to worry too much about spotting the constellation itself as the shooting stars will spread out in all directions. If you do want to locate the constellation check out one of the many night sky apps for phones and tablets. Recently I have been playing around with Sky Map, but there are many others.

The Constellation Draco the Dragon (photo courtesy of Till Credner at Wikimedia)
The Constellation Draco the Dragon (photo courtesy of Till Credner at Wikimedia)


Spotting the meteors is mostly a matter of finding a nice dark spot with an uninterrupted view of the horizon. Hopefully these shooting stars will be fairly bright, so you may be able to spot them without having to get too far from the city.

A waxing moon may interfere a little with your view, but you can keep a watch on the sky furthest from the moon for the best chance of spotting anything.

Photographing the Draconids Meteor Show

Even though there will only be a few per hour, with any luck, there will be some very bright shooting stars. So if you do manage to photograph one of the meteors it could be quite beautiful. You will need a DLSR or mirrorless camera and you will want to use the fastest lens that you have. With a tripod, point your camera at the sky and take lots of photos.

You will probably want to go with quite long exposures. Normally people will try 10-25 second exposures, but you might want to try longer exposures because there will be fewer shooting stars than other meteor showers.

Overall, just take lots of photos, maybe setting up your camera to just keep taking photos in the hope that you catch something. Your chances are going to be low, but if you are lucky you should get a great shooting star photo.

Photo courtesy of Mike Lewinski at Flickr
Photo courtesy of Mike Lewinski at Flickr


Overall

The Draconids are not the greatest meteor shower, but it can have some great shooting stars. This one may be for people who are already out in the countryside or for avid astronomy fans.
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Why? Big slow shooting stars
When: The best time will be around 7 pm
Where: In the night sky, close to the horizon, just west of north
Your Comment
Sounds fantastic!

Shame that you can't see it from Perth. In fact for a below average view you need to be in Darwin or Cairns. http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-draconid-meteor-shower
by sean. (score: 0|7) 240 days ago
Sounds fantastic, Roy, now just to get rid of our overcast skies and we might be able to see them on the Sunshine Coast too.
by Elaine (score: 3|3702) 248 days ago
The Triffids are coming!
by shiel (score: 1|14) 247 days ago
Another great article Roy, particulalry the notes about photography. I wiuld so much like to be able to take sucessful photos of the night sky but first I need to hop into a class to learn how to properly use my camera. I am a complete novice.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5676) 247 days ago
Roy...this is an amazing and VERY informative article. I love it. Thanks for the tips...might be a great idea to go camp .... or road trip at night?
by techc (score: 0|4) 245 days ago
I realise from reading various forums that we are in probably the completely wrong place to view any of the Draconid meteor shower activity, but I have no idea what it could have been, does anyone have any suggestions?
by thera (score: 0|4) 230 days ago
Thanks for the tips,looking forward to more of your articles on local Skyevents.Very informative
by becan (score: 0|4) 239 days ago
Really cool! Thanks for letting us know.
by Alexander (score: 1|33) 243 days ago
Draco is a constellation in the far northern hemisphere - Draco is circumpolar within of the Arctic Circle (that is, never setting), and can be seen all year from northern latitudes.How people in Australia would be able to see this event???
by deede (score: 0|4) 240 days ago
Stunning images without a doubt. Nice article
by RC (score: 3|1211) 117 days ago
Thanks for the informative article Roy. It's probably a silly question, but will we have as good a view over here on the East Coast? If so, the dates are going straight into my diary. I think I've got a perfect spot to watch it from and I'll have the camera (and coffee) ready for a l-o-n-g night. Thanks again.
by Maureen Durney (score: 2|114) 247 days ago
Saw a bright white burning light which appeared to be falling slowly over Mount Wellington, Tasmania, Australia at 8.30pm Saturday 8th October 2016. Could this be part of the Draconid meteor shower?
by thera (score: 0|4) 230 days ago
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