The Draconid meteor shower will peak on Sunday, October 9, offering a chance to see fireballs that appear to come from the dragon in the constellation Draco.
Unfortunately, this year’s peak coincides with the full hunter’s moon, which means conditions are less than ideal for spotting the Draconids. Still, the radiant point (the point where the meteors appear to be coming from) is expected to be highest in the sky just before dark, around 5:00 p.m. local time, which means it may be possible to see some of the meteor shower at dusk before the full moon rises.
In ideal dark sky conditions, you may be able to see up to 10 Draconid meteors per hour, according to EarthSky (opens in a new tab). Still, there have been years when hundreds of Draconids have been seen in a single hour, so even if conditions aren’t ideal with the full moonit might still be worth trying to see some of the dragon’s fireballs.
Related: Draco Constellation: Facts About The Dragon
The Draconids are sometimes called the Giacobinids, because they are the remnants of the small periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner which was first discovered in 1900. The comet has a 6.6-year orbit and last made its closest approach to Earth in 2018 when it came closer than it could had done it in 72 years. In 1985, the International Cometary Explorer, or ICE, became the first spacecraft to fly by a comet when it observed 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, flying straight through the tail of the comet.
The Draconids have been somewhat quiet in recent years, but produced some of the most spectacular displays of the 20th century in 1933 and 1946 when thousands of meteors per hour were seen, according to the British Meteor Network (opens in a new tab).
To best see the Draconids or any other meteor shower, find a dark place and lean or lie down to get as wide a view of the sky as possible. Your eyes will take about 30 minutes to get used to the darkness.
If you want tips on how to photograph the Draconids or any other meteor shower, be sure not to miss our how to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide and if you need imaging equipment, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
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