After typhoons, enjoy a storm of meteors | Inquirer News

After typhoons, enjoy a storm of meteors

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 01:32 AM October 07, 2011

Expect a storm of meteors after days of wind and rain.

Good weather permitting, Filipinos will be rewarded with a refreshing diversion Saturday night: a potentially spectacular meteor shower.

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An unprecedented 40 meteors or more per hour will rain into the northern sky from the constellation Draco the Dragon and will be visible from any part of the country, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

The Draconids meteor shower will peak Saturday night and can be observed from sundown to 10 p.m., Dario dela Cruz, chief of Pagasa’s Space Sciences and Astronomy Section, said in a phone interview.

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“This one’s exciting because there are more than 40 meteors per hour,” Dela Cruz said, recalling that in the past, the meteor shower from the constellation was too insignificant to fuss about. “Now, there will be a storm of meteors.”

Icy debris

Meteor showers are the icy, dusty debris stream shed by comets as they orbit the sun. When the Earth travels through this stream, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky.

The showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to fall, a spot that astronomers call the “radiant.”

The Draconids meteor showers produced brief but spectacular meteor storms twice—in 1933 and 1946—and lesser spectacles in other years.

Often, the radiant of the shower almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon, Pagasa said.

The meteor shower may be viewed with the naked eye provided that the sky is clear, Dela Cruz said.

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Full moon problematic

A big and brilliant moon Saturday night also threatens to “outshine the faint meteors” and spoil the show.  “The full moon will be a problem,” he said.

According to Pagasa, an astronomer has predicted that the “fiery Draco” may spew up to 1,000 meteors in a single hour, but this has to compete with the light of the “waxing gibbous moon.”

But not to worry, the Orionids meteor shower is also coming up.

It will occur from October 17 to 25 but will peak on October 21. It can be observed in the Philippines from 11 p.m. onward on that day, Dela Cruz said.

Unlike the Draconids shower, the Orionids shower may reach 15 meteors an hour and include fireballs.

It may be observed in favorable sky conditions, but there are occasional lulls during peak nights. The large waning crescent moon also threatens to interfere with the shower display, Pagasa said.

The Orionids are fast meteors Pagasa said. The radiant of the shower would be observed north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation Orion.

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TAGS: astronomy, Draco the Dragon, Meteor Shower, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Space Administration (PAGASA), Weather
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