The Draconids Meteor Shower Will Peak This Week
The UK will have the best view of the Draconid meteor shower tonight, October 7, as the event is set to peak.
An estimated five meteors will be visible from the UK every hour, best viewed in the early evening and in an area with little light pollution.
Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteor showers become visible when the Earth passes through streams of debris, the movement of which causes the streaks of light to become visible to humans on the ground.
The spectacle will peak later tonight, but can also be seen tomorrow, October 8.
Robert Lunsford, a member at the American Meteor Society, said in a blog post:
These meteors are often faint so it would help to observe from rural areas where interfering lights are less of a problem. The more stars you can see, the more meteors you will witness.
The waning gibbous moon will not rise until late in the evening so there is an opportunity to view under dark conditions for several hours between dusk and moon rise.
The shooting stars won’t be as spectacular as the shows seen in decades previous. In 1933 and 1946, observers in Europe witnessed thousands of meteors every hour, and in 2011, more than 600 meteors could be seen every hour, according to The Independent.
The Draconids differ from most meteor showers, which are most commonly associated with comets, as they are best seen at night, whereas comets are most visible during the daytime.
Comets are balls of ice and dust that orbit the Sun, which release debris as they travel.
If for whatever reason you can’t see the sky as the shower peaks, there’s always the Orionid meteor shower to look forward to.
The Orionid meteor shower is building to its peak slowly and will be most visible on the night of October 21, but may be visible at other stages during its five-week build. Look out for its other more visible evenings until November 7, when it will eventually pass.
NASA has said stargazers can look forward to 20 meteors per hour, or three every minute, so there’s much more to look forward to if you miss out on the Draconids.
The Orionids are ‘considered to be one of the most beautiful showers of the year’, according to NASA.
The faster of the visible meteors can leave light trails visible for anything from a few seconds to minutes. The faster meteors can even turn into fireballs that you’ll be able to distinguish from others by the ‘prolonged explosions of light’ when viewing the shower.