Status: 02.10.2023, 04:45 a.m.
By: Tanja Banner
In October, shooting Draconid stars can be seen in the night sky. © Matthias Balk / dpa
The history of the Draconids is marked by impressive streams of shooting stars. 2023 will be less active, but the observation conditions are perfect.
Munich – The Draconids represent a meteor shower that can be quite impressive. In 1933 and 1946, several thousand shooting stars per hour were recorded, while in 1985 and 1998 several hundred Draconids were counted per hour, and in 2005 40 shooting stars per hour were still sighted.
Despite these impressive numbers, the Draconids are usually a rather inconspicuous and weak meteor shower. For the year 2023, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) forecasts a maximum of only up to ten shooting stars per hour under ideal conditions in its annual meteor shower calendar.
|Type:||Shooting star stream|
|Comet of origin:||21P/Giacobini-Zinner|
|Shooting stars per hour||10 (in perfect conditions)|
Shooting stars of the Draconids are favorable in 2023
However, the maximum of the Draconids is favorable this year: it is on October 9, a day when the moon is only about a quarter illuminated and rises only after one o'clock in the morning. The full moon does not occur until October 28 this month – then a partial lunar eclipse can also be observed.
This offers ideal conditions for observing the shooting stars of the Draconids, as the constellation Dragon, from whose head the meteors seem to be pouring, is already high in the northwest in the sky after sunset. It can be found above the constellation "Great Bear" and to the left of the constellation "Little Bear".
Draconid meteors are formed by comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
The Draconid meteor shower is formed because the Earth annually crosses a dust trail left in space by comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner on its orbit around the sun. When the dust particles enter the Earth's atmosphere, the spectacular light trails in the sky are created, which we perceive as shooting stars. The Draconids, also called Giacobinids after their comet of origin, are only active for a few days a year. They are visible from about 6 to 10 October and are characterized by slow, yellow and mostly faint meteors.
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If you want to observe the shooting stars of the Draconids and other meteor showers active in autumn, you should look for a place that is as dark as possible with a good all-round view of the sky. There it is recommended to make yourself comfortable with a lounger or blanket, as you can see most shooting stars when you look directly up. Patience is also required when looking for meteors. To be prepared for cool autumn temperatures, you should have warm clothes and a hot drink with you.
Watching shooting stars: Aids don't help
Tools such as a telescope or binoculars are not necessary when observing shooting stars and could even be a hindrance: Only those who have as large a part of the sky as possible in view at the same time will be able to see many shooting stars. In October, there are also other celestial phenomena worth seeing. (tab)
This article, written by the editors, used machine support. The article was carefully reviewed by editor Tanja Banner before publication.