Here’s How To Watch The Draconid Meteor Shower

The Draconid meteor shower is set to make its annual October appearance later this week, peaking on the evenings of Oct. 8 and 9 starting at nightfall.

A new moon on Oct. 13 will create near-ideal viewing conditions.

The Draconids, once called Giacobinids, are meteors that take their name from the northern constellation Draco the Dragon. From the perspective of someone on earth, the meteors appear to originate from a point near the dragon’s head, according to science blog EarthSky.

Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere are expected to have the best view, since Draco is located so far up in the northern sky. The best places to view the Draconids will be in areas like the northern United States, Canada, Europe and northern Asia.

The comet that causes the Draconids — formally known as periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner — orbits the sun once approximately every six and a half years. The meteor shower occurs when the earth collides with bits of of dust and debris in the comets’ wake, according to NASA.

Though the comet typically produces only a few meteors per hour, European observers saw roughly 600 meteors per hour in 2011 — even with a bright moon.

EarthSky recommends getting away from glowing city lights to get the best view (rural skywatchers are just fine). And if you miss the Draconids, don’t fret: A second meteor shower, the Orionids, is expected to debut before dawn on Oct. 22.

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