A periodic comet is approaching Earth and some space photographers are sharing some of their images through the Space Weather Gallery.
It is Comet 21P / Guacobini-Zinner, responsible for the Draconid meteor shower.
Its closest approach to our planet will be on September 10 at a 39% distance between the Earth and the Sun, that is, 0.39 AU, or 58 million kilometers.
"On the scale of things in the Solar System, the comet will be close to Earth, but not close enough to fear," commented the Space Weather team when releasing the image yesterday.
The comet takes 6.6 years to orbit the Sun through Earth's orbit. Its last approach to Earth was in February 2012.
“Every time the Giacobini Zinner returns to the interior of the Solar System, its nucleus delivers ice and rocks into space. These debris form the annual meteor shower known as Draconids, which take place every year in October ”, reveals NASA.
This is a spectacular view that can be obtained next October:
The passing of the comet sometimes means a record fall of Draconid shooting stars.
This happened in 1933 in Europe, when about 500 meteors were observed per minute, and in 1946 in the United States, when between 50 to 100 were seen per minute.
At other times this meteor shower is limited to even about 5 meteors per hour. The information gathered in the past suggests that it offers surprises.
The Draconid meteor shower - sometimes called Giacobinids - this year will be seen between October 7 and 8, and its shooting stars will burst from the northern end of the constellation Draco (The Dragon), therefore in the Northern Hemisphere it is favorable for view from more temperate latitudes, looking over the northern horizon.
Constellation of the Dragon observed in October on the northern horizon. Draconid meteors seem to sprout from there. (EarthSky)
The comet was discovered by Michel Giacobini on December 20, 1900 at a Nice Observatory in France, and later confirmed by Ernst Zinner in 2013, hence its name.
Comet 21P / Guacobini-Zinner and Perseus Clusters, August 16, 2018 (Michael Jager -Speace Weather Gallery)
If the Earth passes through more of the comet debris, "be careful that the Dragon wakes up."
“In 2018, most meteors will probably fall in the afternoon of October 7 or 8. Start observing first thing in the evening after dark, ”noted Earth Sky. Fortunately the New Moon is on October 9, which guarantees a dark sky.
Michael Jager -Speace Weather Gallery