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Impressive meteor shower to streak overhead on Saturday night


Impressive meteor shower to streak overhead on Saturday night

Kelly MacNeil October 7, 2011

A long dormant meteor shower will put on a show for astronomers this weekend, but star gazers in North America may be out of luck. The Draconid meteor shower is expected to provide hundreds of shooting stars per hour, but due to the presence of a full moon and bad timing, it may not be visible in the United States, Space.com reports.

The Draconid meteor shower is rare enough as it is, with the last one appearing in skies in 2005. Before that it was 1998, and even when it does happen the rate of shooting stars are usually very mild, but this year is expected to be much different, which makes the fact that many people will miss it that much more disappointing.

The meteor shower is caused by the comet Giacobini-Zinner, which passes by earth every 6.6 years, but it only puts on a show for the Earth if it passes by at the exact right plane. The most memorable Draconid shower occurred in 1933 when people in Europe saw thousands of meteoroids each hour.

According to the website, the show will be best during the early evening hours, but will pass through North American skies during the early afternoon. People in other parts of the world may not have much luck either since a full moon is slated for October 11.

Still, it may not go completely missed thanks to a group of students in California who are planning to send up a balloon outfitted with a camera high enough to see avoid any of the pitfalls ground-based observes will have.

"When you're up that high, it's really dark," said team member Anna Herbst told Space.com. "So hopefully we'll be able to see the meteors from up there. And we'll be filming the whole time."