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Draconid Meteor Shower 2011: Daylight And Moon May Make It Difficult To View 'Shooting Stars'

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There's good news and bad news this weekend for stargazers.

The good news is that the Draconid meteor shower is back. It only occurs every six-and-a-half years, and this year some estimates suggest it could bring as many as 750 - 1,000 meteors per hour.

The bad news is that we might not be able to see it.

For those in the United States, the Draconid's timing will be the issue: According to the Associated Press, daylight will prevent us from seeing the the meteor shower, as the peak is predicted to be between 2 and 5 p.m. EDT.

"The timing of the shower favors observers in the Middle East, north Africa and parts of Europe," Bill Cooke, who's with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a statement.

But even people watching the sky in those parts of the world might not be so fortunate. Fox News reports that the moon, which will be close to full, may decrease the visibility of the meteors.

"The moon sucks," Cooke told the Associated Press. "It's messed up meteor showers this year. Next year will be better."

From The Associated Press:

Because the Draconids move relatively slowly – 12 miles per second – they're faint and the moonlight "really tends to wash them out," Cooke said in a phone interview.

Discovery News' Mark Thompson explains why people on Earth get to see the Draconid meteor shower:

Every six years, Comet Giacobini-Zinner completes an orbit of the sun leaving behind a trail of cometary debris. The Earth passes by Giacobini-Zinner's orbit every October and when it does, we experience gentle increase in the number of meteors flashing through the atmosphere.

This year, NASA says, the Earth is heading straight for three or four of these trails of debris, or "filaments," left in Comet Giacobini-Zinner's wake.

According to one expert, there could be as many as 1,000 meteors per hour. But this year isn't even close to the best. NASA says meteor showers in 1933 and 1946 produced more than 10,000 Draconids per hour. 1985, 1998 and 2005 were also big years.

And while many of us won't be able to see the Draconid meteor shower, one group of California students will get an amazing view (albeit when they eventually recover the cameras from a balloon.)

Want to see an unmatched view of a meteor shower? Astronaut Ron Garan tweeted this amazing picture of a meteor during the Perseids meteor shower in August.

Check out some cool meteor shower pictures below:

Meteor Showers
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