The number of shooting stars likely to appear during the Draconid episode isn’t huge, the peak of which is expected this year on the night of October 8 to 9, 2021. But we can count on about ten observable events per hour. What pushes adventurers to put themselves at risk outside tonight, especially since according to the Meteo France, a large part of the metropolitan area will be cloud-free and temperatures will remain relatively mild.
a comet that has long been known
The Draconids are the dust of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner that passes close to Earth every six and a half years. It was discovered by Michel Giacobini at the Nice Observatory in 1900, and re-discovered two revolutions later by the German astronomer Ernst Ziner. When Earth passes this swarm of dust, some shooting stars light up the sky but sometimes the phenomenon is much more spectacular: thousands of shooting stars per hour were seen in 1933 and in 2011 from 600/hour not far from. This year, the frequency will be much lower, between 5 and 10 stars per hour. It would be necessary to look to see them only after sunset, oriented north and toward the constellation of the Dragon (next to the Little Dipper).
To scan the sky, there is no question of using any equipment: the eyes are close enough to admire the shooting stars. It is also the most adequate instrument as they alone provide a wide angle of view from which a large part of the sky can be observed. With a lot of luck, it’s even possible to see two shooting stars at the same time. Or even more! On the other hand, to observe planets, constellations or other stars, it is better to bring a binoculars or a pair of binoculars.
source of extraterrestrial matter
If shooting stars burn up in the atmosphere without leaving a trace, other large comet particles reach Earth’s surface, called micrometres, and can be collected by scientists. Most are collected from Antarctic ice or from ocean floor sediments where they are more easily identified. A study conducted in 2021 found that Total annual flow of micro meteorites (which includes the contribution of meteorite dust) represents approx. 5.200 tons per year! This contribution is the main source of extraterrestrial material as large meteorites represent only a few tens of tons per year.
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