The Draconid meteor shower is a short-lived affair and stargazers will not want to miss it. Draconids are active in October when Earth crosses paths with the dusty trail of Comet Giacobini-Zinner. Here is everything you need to know about the beautiful spectacle.
Draconids are one of the less active meteor showers but stargazers staying home due to coronavirus are still excited about their arrival.
Like all meteor showers, the Draconids arrive when our planet ploughs through the orbital debris field of a comet or asteroid.
The meteor shower is typically active for about two weeks in the first half of October, but the shower will be best seen on the night of its peak.
And the bright streaks of light seen during the shower can be caused by debris as small as grains of sand.
According to astronomers at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the shower will peak this week on Thursday, October 8.
The shower is visible in the Northern Hemisphere and will be best seen in the evening hours.
The Royal Observatory said: “The rate of meteors during the shower’s peak depend upon which part of the comet’s trail the Earth orbit intersects on any given year.
However, in 1933 and 1946, the Dracoinds erupted into a meteor storm, producing thousands of visible meteors every hour.
Stargazers in the UK will want to keep their eyes peeled for the Draconids on Thursday evening.
Although most meteor showers are best seen in the wee hours between midnight and dawn, Draconids like to appear right after nightfall.
This is because the shower’s radiant point in the constellation Draco is highest in the sky at nightfall.
The Moon will be nearing its Third Quarter phase this Saturday, which might hinder your viewing experience.
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The Royal Observatory said: “Meteor showers are best seen with a good, clear view of the stars on a night with no clouds.
Be sure to stay away from all sources of light – including your mobile phones – so that your eyes can adapt to the dark.
There is also no need for binoculars or telescopes as meteors are too fast to track with instruments.
Instead, if possible, lie down and try to take in as much of the night sky as possible.
When you see a bright streak crossing the sky, try to trace its path – it will lead you to the constellation Draco.
Astronomer Debora Byrd of EarthSky.org said: “Watch for these meteors as soon as darkness falls, and take advantage of the moon-free hours at nightfall and early evening.”
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World news – THAT – Meteor shower this week: How to watch the beautiful Draconids shower over the UK