The, usually quite beautiful, Draconids meteor shower is now nearly upon us. The peak of this year’s Draconid meteor shower will be on the night of October 8, 2015 — though the night of October 9, 2015, should also make for a good experience as well.
For those unfamiliar with the Draconids, a couple of quick points to make — generally the best time to watch the meteor shower is in the early night, or evening, pretty much right after the end of the day is usually a good time; the radiant point for the meteor shower is the constellation of Draco the Dragon in the northern portion of the sky; and the shower is quite unpredictable.
By “unpredictable” what I mean is that the Draconids are prone to “meteor outbursts” — during these events there can literally be hundreds or thousands of meteor visible an hour. That said, most years are much more relaxed, with 10-20 meteors an hour usually being visible during the peak (when seen from a nice dark location far from the light pollution of cities).
Those reading this from the Southern Hemisphere should probably take note here that the Draconids are more of a Northern Hemisphere meteor shower, owing to the fact that the constellation is pretty far into the “northern sky”.
With regard to the specifics of this year, 2015’s event is actually looking likely to be pretty good — the Moon will be in its waning crescent stage, and won’t be rising until late night, as a result it’s light won’t be interfering much with meteor watching.
(Those interested in the other meteor showers of the year may want to check out: Meteor Showers 2015, Dates and Times, Perseids, Lyrids, Geminids, Leonids, Draconids, Orionids, Etc).
A couple of points here concerning meteor shower watching in general:
- Get far away from cities if you can. The light pollution from cities and urban areas greatly diminishes the number of meteors that you can see (and the number of stars as well). The ideal is to watch from a place that’s dark enough that the Milky Way is highly visible.
- Get comfortable. Preparation helps in this regard — blankets, coffee, chocolate, chairs, wine, etc. All good ways to make meteor watching more fun.
- To add onto that, it’s already starting to get relatively cold in some parts of the northern hemisphere, so dressing warmly will be a good idea and help to make the experience more enjoyable.
- It’s a bit of toss up when meteors appear — sometimes you won’t see any for awhile and then all of sudden they’ll be 10 that go by almost at once… Something to keep in mind.
To keep tabs on the other celestial events of the year you can download this annual calendar of celestial events! (It’s a free PDF).