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  • Writer's pictureAndy Cohen

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner

Parent comet of the October Draconid meteors makes its 6.6 year visit to the Sun

Comet Giacobini-Zinner was captured by the Kitt Peak 0.9-m telescope on 31 October 1998. North is up with east to the left. Image Credit: N.A.Sharp/NOAO/AURA/NSF


With thanks from NASA Solar System Exploration page,

"Each time Giacobini-Zinner returns to the inner solar system its nucleus sprays ice and rock into space. This debris stream results in the annual Draconid meteor shower which take place each year in early October. The Draconids radiate out of the northern constellation of Draco the dragon. Most years the shower is weak, and many times very few meteors are seen. However, there are also Draconid meteor storms (sometimes called Giacobinid meterors) on record. A meteor storm is observed when one thousand or more meteors are seen per hour at the location of the observer. During its peak in 1933, 500 Draconid meteors were seen per minute in Europe. 1946 was also a good year for the Draconids, where 50 -100 were seen per minute in the U.S."

Also with thanks, from Lewis Cason, a wonderfully knowledgeable and generous amateur astronomer, member of the Lowcountry Stargazers in Charleston, SC

"Right now the comet is visible in the morning hours in the constellation Camelopardalis and is 7.7 magnitude. September 10 will be a good time to look for it, for it will near earth, near perihelion, and it will be a new moon. My Skytools 3 says 21P/Giacobini-Zinner will rise about midnight on Monday, the 10th, at 30 degrees altitude by 0300 hrs. on the 11th. It will located in the constellation Auriga, and will be very near the open cluster, M37. Happy comet hunting.  Lewis"

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