Draconids Meteor Shower

The annual Draconids meteor shower, which runs between October 6 and 10, will peak on the evening of October 8.

At that time, the sky overhead will be plowing straight into the cloud of interplanetary debris that generates the shower. Normally, this is a modest shower - but it has been much more prolific some in years when the Earth encounters a denser patch of debris. Meteors are the streaks of light we see when tiny particles travelling at great speed ionize the atoms in our atmosphere. The material that produces the Draconids was deposited by repeated passages of periodic Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. This year the maximum hourly rate can reach 15 meteors in a dark sky. Unfortunately, the bright, waxing gibbous moon will wash out many of the fainter meteors.

To see more meteors, get away from light-polluted urban skies and find a dark site with plenty of open sky. Don’t bother with binoculars or a telescope – their fields of view are too narrow for meteors. You can start watching as soon as it is dark. True Draconids will appear to emanate from the sky near the stars that form the head of the constellation of Draco (the Dragon), and that gives this shower its name. But don't watch the sky there - those meteors will be travelling towards you and will be very short. Just watch the sky overhead. Avoid bright white light from phones or tablets - it will spoil your eyes’ dark adaptation.

We’ve now entered meteor season. A sequence of very good showers will occur over the next few months. Early risers might catch a few early Orionids this week. On October 10, the Southern Taurid meteor shower will reach its peak. This meteor shower is active from 10 September to 20 November annually and is rich in bright meteors and fireballs. The shower's radiant point is in the constellation of Cetus.

Use our Star Walk 2 app to find the radiant in the sky and enjoy bright meteors with the naked eye.

Clear skies and happy stargazing!

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