Taiwan in a prime position to view key meteor shower

By Lin Hsiang-mei and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sun, Oct 07, 2012 - Page 3

The annual Draconid meteor shower is expected to peak at 7:15pm tomorrow with dozens of meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere every hour, with Taiwan being described as the best place to watch this year’s dazzling display of shooting stars, the Taipei Astronomical Museum (TAM) has said.

“The Draconid occurs each October, roughly between Oct. 6 and Oct. 10, and only a handful of places on Earth get an optimum view of the event. Luckily, Taiwan is the best viewing area for this year’s Draconid meteor shower with maximum activity occurring at 7:15pm and lasting for about three hours,” TAM researcher Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said.

Chang said the October Draconid shower varies in intensity from year to year and delivers an average of between one and 10 meteors per hour.

“However, the Draconids have reached storm intensity on two occasions in history during which, at their peak, more than 1,000 meteors an hour were produced. An intensity of between 20 and 500 meteors per hour has also been recorded several times,” she said.

The Draconids fall at a speed of about 20km per second in a northwesterly direction, Chang said, adding that because they are typically faint, they are best viewed in regions with clearer, darker skies — such as on mountains and in rural areas.

“Meteor enthusiasts should avoid metropolitan areas and beaches, as these locations are prone to light pollution and higher humidity which can obstruct the starlight,” Chang said.