Draconid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

The Draconid meteor shower peaks tonight, October 7, 2012. Draconids are the left over remains of a comet that previously passed by the Earth. Their display will be most visible tonight, but October 8th should put on a good show also.

The Draconid meteor shower that is occurring October 7th and 8th this year is the first of the two major meteor displays occurring in October. Though the Draconids are somewhat unpredictable.

The Perseids recently put on a brilliant display in August.

Observers in the northern-hemisphere should be watching for very slow-moving meteors that appear to be emerging “from the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon (not far from the North Star) on Sunday night, Oct 7th, through Monday morning Oct. 8th.”

The sky map posted above shows where the Draco constellation is located in the night sky tonight at 9 p.m. local time from mid-northern latitudes.

“The Draconid meteor shower is created each year when the Earth passes through a trail of dust left over by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, an icy solar system wanderer that orbits the sun once every 6.6 years.”

“In 2011, the Earth passed through a dense patch of comet debris and spawned an impressive Draconid meteor shower for some lucky observers, with up to 600 meteors per hour that. But last year’s display may have been disappointing for observers in North America since it peaked during daylight hours, with the nighttime observing period spoiled by the bright moon.”

“On average, the meteor shower creates between 10 or so meteors an hour.”

If you’re going to watch them tonight, here are some basic tips:

Observe in a dark place, preferably far away from city lights.

Find a comfortable way to watch them, maybe a good chair.

Dress warmly.

Watch them at the right time, which for the Draconids is, unusually, right after dusk, not midnight like with most meteor showers.

“Their radiant (apparent point of origin due to perspective) is highest after dusk; it moves lower throughout the night and is near the horizon at dawn.”

“The Draconid meteor shower is one of two big night sky meteor sights in October. There are several minor meteor showers throughout the month, but the Draconids and the annual Orionid meteor shower later in October are the main players to look out for.”

“The Orionid meteor shower one of two showers created by the leftovers of the famed Halley’s Comet (the Eta Aquarid meteor display in May is the other). It will peak on Oct. 22, according to the International Meteor Association.”

Source: Space

Image Credits: Starry Night Software; Leonids and Leonid via Wikimedia Commons

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