Skip to main content

Skywatching Guide: Meteor Showers of 2011

How Comets Cause Meteor Showers
A 2010 Orionid meteor, seen over Western Ontario, Canada. A waxing gibbous moon shines brightly at the left side of the image.
(Image: © NASA courtesy of Meteor Physics Group, University of Western Ontario)

Meteor showers occur when the Earth's orbit takes it through the path of a comet, which spews debris as it passes, like junk falling out of the back of a poorly-secured garbage truck. Bits of debris plunge through the Earth's atmosphere, and friction causes the debris to burn up, creating meteors.

2011 meteor showers. (Image credit: RASC Observer's Handbook 2011 and International Meteor Organization)

Current meteor forecast models project a strong Draconid outburst, possibly a full-blown storm, on Oct. 8, 2011, according to William Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.