Draconid Meteor Outburst Observed

Observations by BAA members and by non-members who have so far communicated with the Director of the Meteor Section confirm that a short-lived outburst of Draconid meteors occurred on 2011 October 8.

Draconid rates were generally low until around 1900 UT on October 8 when a rapid increase in activity occurred, peaking between 2005 and 2015 UT. Thereafter there was a rapid decline, with Draconid meteor rates returning to a low level by 2130 UT.  A very preliminary analysis of visual observations made by a group of observers led by the Director, observing from near Goreme in central Turkey, indicates that the peak equivalent ZHR was about 350 m/h between 2005 and 2015 UT, although correction factors are high due to the effect of bright moonlight.  It is possible that lesser, short-lived secondary bursts in Draconid activity were also noted around 1915 and 1938 UT.

Observers in the UK had to contend with cloud and rain on the evening of October 8, but it is extremely encouraging that so many individuals and local society groups battled the elements in the hope of getting a view of the shower.  Some were rewarded for their persistence.  A short period of partially clear weather enabled observers in Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire (and hopefully other areas as well) to glimpse the shower between 1955 and 2030 UT.  By a fortunate circumstance this was coincident with the main peak in Draconid activity.

The Director is extremely grateful to all those observers in the UK who have so far communicated with him by email, including: Len Entwisle, Peter Gill (Eastbourne AS), Gerard Gilligan (Liverpool AS), Tim Haymes (Maidenhead AS), Brian Heath (Nottingham AS), Nick James, Gordon MacLeod, Bob Mizon, Alex Pratt, George Spalding and David Swain.

More observations of the Draconid outburst, using photographic, visual, and radio techniques, from individuals and groups in the UK and overseas, are urgently required to build up a full picture of the shower’s rapidly changing activity.  Even if you have only glimpsed a few meteors during a short-lived break in the clouds, the Section would like to receive your report. Simple counts of meteors seen within given time periods will also be welcome. It is intended that a summary of all the observations received, crediting all of the individual observers and society groups, will be published in the BAA Journal as soon as all observations have been received and the analysis completed.

There must be many observers – including many non BAA members – who witnessed the peak of the shower, and we would like to encourage all these people to submit their observations to the Section, either via email to:

or by post to:

Draconid Meteor Project 2011
British Astronomical Association
Burlington House
London W1J 0DU

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