tisdag 11 oktober 2011

The Draconid Meteor Shower

During Saturday night the meteor shower "The Draconids" had its peak in activity. With rather heavy clouds and some light snow-fall early in the evening, I had no real hope to catch any meteors with my camera. Soon after setting up the camera however, I saw a very bright fireball in the east (not far from Jupiter), leaving a distinct reddish smoke-trail. The camera was, of course, pointing in another direction but it looked promising and I decided to ignore the clouds building up behind me.

Meteors are caused by small bits of debris that, when crashing into the Earth`s atmosphere, burn and cause the intense light-streaks that we call meteors. The origin of most meteor showers are dust from comets. When comets travel to the inner parts of the solar system, they shed a stream of debris along their orbits. When the Earth travels through such a stream, an increase in meteor activity known as a meteor shower can be seen. The comet debris that causes the Draconids comes from the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

The clouds came closer and during the peak of the activity I had to realise that the score Clouds vs. Draconids was 1-0, but despite the cloud-cover, I caught a farily bright meteor close to the constellation Cassiopeia.

Draconid meteor through the clouds

Later on, the sky got more clear but there were few meteors to be seen, but instead some spectacular northern lights filled the sky and were at times really bright despite an almost full Moon.

Auroras over Tromsø. The Planet Jupiter can be seen through the clouds to the upper right in the picture.

The next meteor shower is "The Orionids" on the night of October 21, and for an excellent overview of the meteor showers in 2011, have a look at this page: http://www.theskyscrapers.org/meteors/

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