Learning never exhausts the mind
Home >  Astronomy > Sky at Night > Draconid Meteor Shower

First published on by Updated

The Annual Draconid Meteor Shower occurs each year around Oct 8th when Earth passes through a minefield of dusty debris from Comet Giacobini-Zinner.

Astronomers and star-gazers consider it to be one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year. The Draconid meteor shower is also known as the Giacobinids. It is one of two meteor showers to grace our skies in October.

When Do The Draconids Peak?

The Draconid Meteor Shower radiates from the fiery mouth of the northern constellation Draco the Dragon and peaks on the nights of 7th - 8th of October. This shower had an unusually rich peak in 2011, but meteor rates this year are expected to be back to normal, meaning only a handful of meteors each hour.

Unlike most meteor showers, the Draconids are best seen in the evening, instead of before dawn.

Draconid Meteor Shower Radiant

Draconid Meteor Shower Radiant

To get the best view look away from the moon, towards the northern half of the sky.

Stargazers should also keep an eye out for the Orionids. It usually peaks much later on in the month, around October 21.

How to Watch the Draconid Meteor Shower

Meteor showers are really easy to view, and you don't need any special equipment. It helps to get out of cities away from artificial lights and light pollution. Take warm clothes, hot drinks and blanket or a comfortable chair with you. Viewing meteors, just like all astronomy, is a waiting game and you need to be comfortable, especially during the winter months. Finally, you need to let your eyes adapt to the dark - avoid looking at your mobile phone or any other light as they will hinder night vision.

Meteors will always travel away from the constellation for which the shower is named. This apparent point of origin is called the radiant. For example, if you look directly at Gemini you will see geminid meteors radiate out from the constellation. Lying down and observing overhead can be the best way to observe meteor showers.

The only thing you will need is a clear and comfortable dark spot. You won't have to use binoculars or a telescope to enjoy the night's sky.

The showers will appear in the sky like shooting stars so be sure to make a wish as they pass you by.

Photographing Meteor Showers

For photographing meteor showers, a digital camera mounted on a tripod is essential to steady the images. Meteors will move swiftly across the sky so a quick trigger finger also helps, but even random clicks during the height of 'prime-time' can also produce great results. Be sure to have the camera focused on infinity and, if your camera permits, leave the shutter open for several minutes for the most spectacular photographic effects.

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are mandatory.

We respect your privacy, and will not make your email public. Hashed email address may be checked against Gravatar service to retrieve avatars. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.