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Weekly Weather Event -Week of Sept. 31

October 4, 2019

Keep your eyes peeled on the night sky; the Draconid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak from the just before midnight on October 8th through early morning on the 9th. The Southern Taurids are not far behind, allowing viewers in both hemispheres to catch a glimpse of meteors from October 9th into the 10th.

These meteor showers are considered fairly minor, only producing around 10 meteors per hour for the duration of their peak. However, both are known to produce some spectacular sights. While not expected this year, the Draconid shower can produce outbursts, filling the sky with hundreds of meteors in an hour. In contrast, the Southern Taurids are known for producing fireballs, meteors that appear incredibly bright as they streak across the sky.

As asteroids and comets travel throughout space, small fragments of rock sometimes break off and produce meteoroids. When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere, friction between the gasses and the fast-moving rock cause the rock to rapidly heat up and start glowing. Most of the time, this heat is enough to vaporize the rock completely, burning up in a flash of light that we observe as a ‘shooting star’ or a meteor. Should the rock hit the ground, it is classified as a meteorite.

Meteors that occur in clusters are known as meteor showers. While the meteoroids that create meteor showers move parallel to each other, observers on Earth see meteor showers appearing to originate from a single point in the sky called the radiant. By convention, major meteor showers are typically named by the constellation closest to the radiant.