The 2017 Draconid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak on October 8. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
The best time to see the shooting stars from this meteor shower is right before nightfall.
2 Meteor Showers in October
The Draconid meteor shower, also sometimes known as the Giacobinids, is one of the 2 meteor showers to annually grace the skies in October.
The Draconids owe their name to the constellation Draco the Dragon, and are created when the Earth passes through the dust debris left by comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner. The comet takes about 6.6 years to make a single revolution around the Sun.
Although the Draconids have been responsible for some of the most spectacular meteor showers in recorded history, most recently in 2011, most astronomers and sky gazers consider these to be one of the least interesting meteor showers in during the year.
The Orionids is the second meteor shower in October. It usually peaks around October 21.
Location in the Sky
The Draconids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. Maximum for the shower is on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 1:59 pm; the table below is for that night:
|Draconids meteor shower for Orlando (Night between October 8 and October 9)|
|Sun 8:00 pm||325°||54.3°|
|Sun 9:00 pm||320°||46.2°|
|Sun 10:00 pm||318°||37.5°|
|Sun 11:00 pm||319°||28.7°|
|Mon 12:00 midnight||321°||20.2°|
|Mon 1:00 am||325°||12.4°|
|Mon 2:00 am||331°||5.5°|
|Mon 3:00 am||338°||0.1°|
Where Can I See the Draconids?
Viewers in Northern America, Europe and Asia are the best situated to enjoy the Draconids. Those closer to the Equator in the Southern Hemisphere can also sometimes see few meteors from the Draconids.
While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower, astronomers suggest locating the Draco the Dragon's 2 brightest stars, Eltanin and Rastaban. The meteor shower seems to emerge from the dragon’s head.
When to View the Draconids
Unlike other meteor showers, the best time to view the Draconids is just after the Sun sets and right before nightfall. This is because, the Draconids’ radiant point - the point in the sky where the meteor shower seems to come from - is highest in the sky during dusk. The shower peaks around October 7 and 8 every year.
How to View the Draconids
There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Draconids:
- Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
- If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
- Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
- Check the weatherand moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.