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View of Earth from perspective of shower at peak of Draconid shower. Moon waxing gibbous 91%. [Average cloud cover]

Jeremie Vaubaillon
1900 trail:
peak ZHR = ~600
time = 19:57 UT (Oct 8)
radiant RA = 263.2 deg, DEC = +55.8
1873-1894 trails:
peak ZHR = ~60?
time = 17:09 UT (Oct 8)
radiant RA = 263.3 deg, DEC = +55.4


Danielle Moser (MSFC)
peak ZHR = ~750
time = 19:52 UT (Oct 8)

Esko Lyytinen
1900 trail:
time = 20:12 UT (Oct 8)
peak ZHR = 150
peak sol long = 195.038
duration FWHM = 70 min
1887 trail:
time = 17:02 UT (Oct 8)
peak ZHR = 16
peak sol long = 194.908
duration FWHM ~ 25 min
(update: 2011/1/21)

Mikhail Maslov
1900 trail:
peak ZHR = 40-50
time = 20:13 UT (Oct 8)
radiant RA = 263.3 deg, DEC = +55.8
speed Vg = 20.9 km/s
1894 trail:
peak ZHR = 8
time = 18:06 UT

Mikiya Sato
1900 trail:
peak ZHR = 500
time = 20:36 UT (Oct 8)
1873-1894 trails: peak ZHR = 100
time = 17:05 UT (Oct 8)

Draconid MAC
team leads:

Jeremie Vaubaillon,
Observatoire de Paris
Airborne observations Safire (CNRS) aircraft
[Career pages]

P. Koten,
Ondrejov Observatory
Airborne observations Falcon 20E (DLR) aircraft

Dr. Peter Jenniskens,
SETI Institute
Groundbased observations

V. Della Corte
Universita degli studi di Napoli "Parthenope"
DUSTER - Dust collection by balloon

Mission statement - The 2011 Draconids Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign is an international campaign to study the exceptional 2011 October 8 Draconid meteor outburst from the air and ground.

News blog:

December 13 - Draconid MAC: the movie. Here is a documentary about the 2011 Draconids, realized by J. Mouette (CNRS). Note that there are both an English and a French version (choose the language with the upper right corner).

October 31 - This movie of 2011 Draconid shower (above) shows the October 8 Draconid shower as it was seen by Peter Jenniskens, Michael Gerding, Carl Johannink, and Marco Langbroek with two units of the CAMS video camera system that were moved to Kuehlungsborn and Lebatz in Northern Germany. CAMS is part of NASA's Planetary Astronomy program. [high res version; 48.4 MB / avi]

October 20 - Draconid MAC mission website by Jeremie Vaubaillon was updated with first results from the airborne campaign.

October 16 - CBAT has issued a summary report on the Draconids.

October 16 - We thank James Brewster of the SETI Institute for updating the Draconid MAC website during the observing campaign.

October 16 - A nice chronologic account of Draconid news is at this blog by Daniel Fisher.

October 15 - From Noordwijk in the Netherlands, Detlef Koschny of ESA/ESTEC recorded over 80 Draconids in 2 hours around the peak using an automated intensified LIC4 camera. He made this animation:

Draconids2011_all_sml This compilation of 16 Draconids was created by Marco Langbroek and Carl Johannink at the remote site in Dunkelsdorf, Germany. The brightest star in the image is the North Star.

October 9 - Peter Jenniskens reports that 28 Draconids were triangulated from Kuehlungsborn and the remote site at Lebatz in Northern Germany. The calculated position of the radiant proves that the outburst Draconids were indeed the 1900-dust of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

October 8 - Jeremie Vaubaillon and Jonathan McAuliffe report that the SAFIRE aircraft did not detect the first peak on the first leg of the airborne mission in a direction SE of Kiruna. Juraj Toth detected what may be 14 Draconids with an allsky camera at the airport in Kiruna. During the second leg, when both aircraft were in the air, all observed the second peak. There were many oohs and aahs from meteors and aurora.

October 8 - Other first results are reported at the IMO website and the Radio Meteor Observers Bulletin. They confirm a return much as predicted. Congratulations to Jeremie Vaubaillon for his excellent modeling of the shower.

October 8 - Peter Jenniskens and Michael Gerding report the successful detection of potassium atom debris trails from Draconid meteors between 20h and 21h UT. Before 20h, there were clouds at the Kuehlungsborn IAP site. The remote location had clear wheather throughout and reported a shower peak around 20h UT. The shower was rich in faint meteors, as predicted. Meteor radars in Andoya and Canada also report detecting the Draconids, but only the second peak. The first peak did not show.

October 8 - Observers in Europe woke up to this weather pattern this morning (7:45 UT, Oct 8). The weather is highly dynamic, changing from hour to hour. Kuehlungsborn is in the shade of the Norwegian mountains, which created a band of partially clear weather over the lidar site. Peter Jennisken has chosen to set up the second station west of the lidar site in the center of the band of clear weather, in order to minimize chance of fog. Camera operators Carl Johannink and Marco Langbroek left shortly after noon to find a good location to set up the cameras.

October 7 - At 3:45 pm, Jeremie Vaubaillon reported that the SAFIRE aircraft had just arrived in chilly Kiruna.

October 7 - Francois Colas reports that Pic du Midi had snow this evening, no chance to test instruments, but weather forecast is still optimistic for tomorrow. At Pic du Midi is a large international contingent of observers, including 8 japanese, 5 dutch, 1 peruvian, etc....

October 7 - The DLR Falcon lifted off as scheduled 18:45 today from Oberpfaffenhofen. The liftoff was during rain and grey sky on a very lonely airfield. In Kuehlungsborn, two lidars were operational in a partially cloudy sky for camera and equipment tests.

October 7 - Ralph Latteck of the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Kuehlungsborn informs us that the new 50 MHz MST radar MAARSY was configured for meteor head echo observations. The radar points vertically up from Andoya, Norway, at latt 69o17'N, 16o01'E. Additionally, a SKiYMET meteor radar is operated on Andoya and some near-real time results (e.g. count rates) are presented on this webpage.


October 6- Peter Jenniskens arrived at the Institute for Atmospheric Phyiscs in Kuehlungsborn in the company of Carl Johannink and Marco Langbroek of the Dutch Meteor Society and they received a guided tour of the lidar facility from Michael Gerding (left in photo). The weather prospects are still not good for early evening October 8, although clear skies are expected later in the night.

Joe Zender and Pavel Koten report that the DLR Falcon left for a repair to Basel yesterday, but arrived back at Oberpfaffenhofen today after lunch. The technicians prepared the plane and the scientists were able to start instrument integration at 3 pm. At 5 pm, the direct and spectral camera from Ondrejov observatory were tested and installed. All looked good. The ESA spectral camera works, with some checking of the DV recorded due tomorrow. Allsky camera of Juray Toth is operational. SPOSH and Cabernet camera still need work.

Jeremie Vaubaillon reports that the SAFIRE aircraft pup got repaired on time to fly yesterday. The instruments were tested in flight. SPOSH was run successfully by Jonathan McAuliffe. Dominique Pautet was successful running NIRSPEC, but he was concerned about the field of view. The SETI Institute intensified camera ran without problems. The Cabernet camera ran fine, but the software stopped without warning at the beginning of the flight. The HDTV camera ran ok, with the gain set lower due to stars in the field of view. Some issues with light reflections were still to be solved. The Ondrejov intensified camera still needs some pointing adjustments.


2011, October 4 - Peter Jenniskens advises the daytime U.S. observers to use binoculars looking 10-40 degrees elevation towards the North, away from the Sun!, to perhaps spot the occasional bright Draconid in the period 19 to 21h UT (Oct. 8 at 15-17h EDST, 12-14h PDST, especially around 16h EDST and 13h PDST). The shower should be very good for radio meteor scatter observers and in radar data.

European night-time obserers get to see the outburst in Moonlight, but so were past Draconid storms. The moon is not high in the sky early in the evening and should not bother too much when looking away towards the north and west in clear skies. However, the faint meteors will be lost in the moon glare. Don't expect thousands, but instead admire the flashy, flary, waky, and otherwise very unusual meteors you can see, for this shower is not seen in other years. The meteors are coming almost straight down. In the hours after the shower, telescopic observers might find it interesting to watch for possible lunar impacts in the sliver of dark moon near the north pole (but watch image reversal in some telescopes).

ground preparations 2011, October 3 - The mission patches arrived at the facilities in Toulouse and Oberpfaffenhofen. Peter Jenniskens at the SETI Institute has two CAMS units ready for deployment. At the moment, weather prospects for a clear October 8 night in Kuehlungsborn are not good, but we are pressing forward with our plan in the hope that the weather will clear.

2011, September 29 - Prof. Asta Pellinen-Wannberg of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna informs us that preparations were made to observe the Draconids over the Northen Scandinavia region. Her team will run two of the EISCAT radars on October 8, between 16-23h UT. The EISCAT Svalbard radar will follow the radiant. The EISCAT VHF will observe vertically and there will be a small interferometric receiver in Kiruna aiming towards the meteor heights. In addition, the optical network ALIS will look over the Kiruna region or alternatively over EISCAT at Tromso, but may be affected by weather.

2011, September 26 - Jeremie Vaubaillon informs us that the first test flight of SAFIRE was postponed because the pilot was not available, currently until Thursday Sep. 29. Jean Mouette (CNRS journalist) will fly on the test flight to document the campaign, material from which (in french and english) will be available free for rebroadcast [requests here]. The Japanese TV NHK will also make a documentary. More pictures of the preparations are posted here.

DLR/Falcon checkout

2011, September 26 - The P.I. of the DLR/Falcon deployment, Pavel Koten, informs us that he visited the DLR/Falcon aircraft at Oberpfaffenhofen together with Slovakian colleagues Juraj and Leos on the 2nd of August. Instrument installation on the aircraft is planned for Wednesday Oct. 5 and Thursday Oct. 6. The flight to Kiruna is planned for Friday Oct. 7 at 19 UT, with the aim to test the instruments aboard and record background meteor activity. The main research flight will be between 19 and 23 UT. More photo's of the August visit here.

possible lunar impacts

2011, September 24 - The figure above shows schematically the location where 21P/Giacobini-Zinner's meteoroids can impact the Moon on October 8. The graph of the Moon, left, was created by Pete Gural. The dust distribution is that calculated by Jeremie Vaubaillon. According to Peter Jenniskens, the 1900-dust might be dispersed far enough for lunar impact flashes to be observed if the stream contains big enough meteoroids. mission patch Only a 6% part of the 91% illuminated moon, the dark top northern corner where the craters are best visible, will be suitable to observe lunar impacts. Best time to point a telescope and watch for impacts is about 1-2h after the main event (around 21-22h UT). As it happens, the International Observe the Moon Night is scheduled for Saturday October 8, the day of the Draconid outburst.

2011, September 23 - The mission patch is in production for delivery on Sep. 29.


2011, September 23 - The SETI Institute camera was mounted in the SAFIRE aircraft (photo above). P.I. Jeremie Vaubaillon (right in photo, with Jonathan McAuliffe of INSA/ESAC) has a great series of pictures from the SAFIRE instrument installation here.

2011, September 13 - The IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams just issued an Astronomical Telegram summarizing the predictions for the upcoming shower.

2011, September 13 - Diego Janches reports that the proceedings of the Meteoroids 2010 conference has appeared as a NASA Technical Report [pdf file, download].

1946 Draconids 2011, September 12 - The Dutch Meteor Society's latest issue of e-Radiant has an in-depth story on the Draconids, looking back at the past 1946 Draconid storm amongst others (Photo left shows 1946 Draconids from Griffith Observatory, image courtesy of Tony Cook).

2011, September 9 - P.I. Pavel Koten has been awarded 9 hours of flight time and travel expenses from the User Group Selection Panel for deployment of the EURFAR aircraft for a deployment during the 2nd peak from Kiruna, Sweden. The aircraft will team up with the SAFIRE aircraft at that time.

2011, September 9 - Preparations are underway for deployment of the SAFIRE aircraft out of Toulouse to Kiruna, Sweden, in an effort led by P.I. Jeremie Vaubaillon. A SETI Institute camera for meteor spectroscopy was shipped to Toulouse today.

2011, September 6 - Because approval was given for another mission, we are planning not to press for deployment of the Gulfstream V aircaft to observe the Draconids in two-station observations with SAFIRE. Instead, Peter Jenniskens is now planning to provide ground-based support for the airborne campaign by teaming up with Michael Gerding of the Leibniz-Institut fuer Atmosphaerenphysik in Kuehlungsborn, Germany, to observe the Draconids with a resonant potassium lidar, weather permitting. Carl Johannink and Koen Miskotte of the Dutch Meteor Society have volunteered to provide support with multi-station imaging of the meteors that may produce trains drifting by the lidar beam.

2011, August 19 - Jon Reijneveld completed his NASA Ames Academy program with a presentation on the upcoming Draconids and observing plans.

2011, August 4 - We learned today that the NASA Meteroid Environment Office is not planning an independent ground-based observing campaign to monitor the Draconids.

flight path

2011, June 22 - Proposed GV flight path during the Draconid shower. NASA Ames Exploration Academy student Jon Reijneveld (T.U. Delft) has investigated the observing conditions at altitude using STK and found a flight path that can observe the Draconids in darkness at 41,000 ft in a flight out of Kiruna, starting at 16:30 UT. This would make it possible to cover the early 1873-1894 dust ejecta (if they exist), with the Moon completely out of the picture (at the tail or the nose of the aircraft). The main peak of 1900-dust ejecta would be covered on the way from Kiruna to Boston, keeping the Moon in the left-hand window at a constant position relative to the aircraft window, so we can study the sky below and above with staring instruments at all times. [[Movie showing proposed flight of both aircraft (3Mb, wmv)]]

2011, June 14 - A nice overview article on the 2011 Draconids was published by Jeremie Vaubaillon, Junichi Watanbe, Mikiya Sato, Shun Horii, and Pavel Koten in the June issue of JIMO, the Journal of the International Meteor Organization (p. 59-63). Mikhail Maslov also contributed a paper "Future Draconid outbursts (2011-2100)."

2011, April 14 - The NASA Meteoroid Enivornment Office has made available a Draconid Fluence Calculator for satellite operators.

2011, April 6 - Jeremie informed us that the prefered location for deployment of the Draconid mission has been changed to Kiruna, Sweden, with an airport that is not too busy in October, which offers the best chance for a timely departure.

2011, Jan 31 - Jeremie Vaubaillon reports that the deployment of the SAFIRE aircraft received a grant from INSU, covering the cost of the aircraft's flight time. Additional support is requested to support the scientific effort.

2011, Jan 10 - Commercial tours are being offered to observe the Draconid outburst (in alphabetical order):
Explorers Astronomy Tours
Ring of Fire expeditions
Solar eclipse trips

2011, Jan 4 - We plan a "2011 Draconids MAC" workshop. Francois Colas has proposed to have this meeting held here. This location has easy acces from Paris by High Speed Train (5 hours) or from Lourdes/Tarbes airport (30min from the hotel). There are 50 beds and a large conference room. A visit at Pic du Midi observatory can be arranged, as well as a visit to the thermal bath at Acquensis. Keep tuned.

2010, Dec20 - Pavel Koten and Jason Hatton learned that the DLR Halo aircraft is not available during the Draconid outburst. An alternative aircraft for deployment is the DLR Falcon.

2010, Nov 29 - CSA Council rated Vaubaillon's proposed deployment of the Safire Falcon aircraft (supported by INSU) to study the Draconids as a priority one project. Deployment of the aircraft is pending funding support. Only three scientists can deploy on this aircraft (Vaubaillon, Taylor Dantowitz?).

2010, Oct 6 - Kelly Beatty's blog on the 2011 Draconids. Canadian meteorologist Jay Anderson provided an average cloud cover over Europe during October map. News stories: [NSNBC]; [National Geographic]

2010, Sep 16 - Jeremie Vaubaillon presentation at the International Meteor Conference in Armagh, N. Ireland: 2011 Draconids: storm or just an outburst? zhr
2010, June 16 - NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is assessing the risk to spacecraft posed by the upcoming 2011 Draconid meteor shower. 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. Peak flux for particles of 1 mm and larger is calculated as 4.4 per square km per hour, which is 22 times the sporadic background and exceeding that of recent Leonid storms.
More information: Presentation
News stories: []; [ Christian Science Monitor]; [RedOrbit]


2010, May 16 - Michael Maslov today published his predictions for the 2011 Draconids. A graph of the position of the dust trails projected on the ecliptic plane is shown above. While others predict peak rates of order ZHR = 600, Maslov is much more pessimistic about a good shower, predicting peak rates of only ZHR = 40-50/h.

2008, June 1 - Jun-Ichi Watanabe and Mikiya Sato makes predictions for the 2011 Draconid shower ("Activities of Parent Comets and Related Meteor Showers", Earth Moon and Planets 102, 111-116), an update from Sato's earlier 2004 predictions.

2006, Sep 1 - In a more complete modeling, Peter Jenniskens and Jeremie Vaubaillon find a promising encounter with the 1900 dust trail in 2011: "Rates in 2011 may increase to storm level". In: P. Jenniskens, 2006. Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets. p. 334 (and Table 6d, p. 678). The Moon will be in Aquarius and is 91 percent illuminated.

2004, Oct 7 - While studying the origin of the 1998 Draconid shower, Mikiya Sato of the Fuchu Astronomical Society predicts an encounter of Earth with the 1900 dust trail of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner in 2011.

SETI Institute logo Curator: Peter Jenniskens
Responsible NASA Official: Jay H. Grinstead

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