A Draconid meteorite can be seen in the sky over West Yorkshire, England, in October 2020.
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Look for the Draconid meteor shower this weekend, which is expected to peak on October 8.
Unlike many meteor showers, Draconids are not the type you’ll have to stay up late to watch because the shower is most visible just after nightfall and throughout the evening hours, rather than in the early morning.
However, the Draconic Meteor Shower is on the sparse side. Expect to see a few meteors, about 10 at most, streaking across the sky per hour.
Draconids are created by debris from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The shower gets its name because the meteors appear to be coming from the direction of the constellation Draco. The Earth passes near the orbit of this comet in early October every year.
Draconid meteors move slower than those seen during other showers, meaning they can only be visible for a second or two. The moon will be only 23% illuminated in its current phase, which will allow for better viewing of faint meteors once night falls.
Although this is considered a “sleepy” shower compared to some of the larger showers that will occur later this year, the “Dragon” could be full of surprises. Stargazers saw thousands of meteors per hour during this shower in 1933 and 1946, according to EarthSky.
The chance to witness a meteor shower streaking across the sky, called a meteor storm, can be a captivating prospect for stargazers. Meteor showers occur when our planet passes through debris trails left by comets and asteroids, which spew out bits of rock and ice as they orbit the sun. Meteor storms can be caused by comet-generated debris being concentrated near the comet, rather than spreading out, as Earth passes through the path left by the comet.
Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner completes an orbit around the Sun every seven years, and the last time it approached Earth in September 2018, many reported seeing an explosion during the meteor shower. The next close won’t happen until 2025, but a blowout is always possible.
The best way to view the meteor shower is to sit in a reclining lawn chair or lie on your back and look up at the sky with a wide view. No special equipment is needed, but if you want the best viewing conditions, it helps to be as far away from artificial light as possible.
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to avoid city lights, which may make the meteor shower appear faint. Scientists from NASA also said that camping in the country could double the amount of meteorites visible.
Don’t forget to bring your camera before going out. Meteor showers are a great opportunity for time-lapse videos and long exposure photography.
If you’re bothered by dragons or bad weather is blocking your view, this year has a few extra meteor showers in store.
All remaining meteor showers expected to peak this year will be most visible from late evening until dawn in areas with no light pollution. Here are the peak dates for events:
● Al-Jabariyat: October 20-21
● South Taurides: November 4-5
● Northern revolts: November 11-12
● Leonids: November 17-18
● Gemini: December 13-14
● Ursids: December 21-22
Here are the remaining full moons in 2023, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
● October 28: Hunter’s Moon
● November 27: Beaver Moon
● December 26: Cold Moon
Lunar and solar eclipse
People across North, Central and South America will be able to see Annular solar eclipse on October 14. During this event, also called the Ring of Fire, the Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth at or near its furthest point from Earth. The Moon will appear smaller than the Sun and surrounded by a glowing halo.
To avoid eye damage while looking at the phenomenon, viewers should wear eclipse glasses.
A partial lunar eclipse will also occur on October 28. Only part of the Moon will pass through the shadow, as the Sun, Earth and Moon will not be completely aligned. This partial eclipse will be visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, parts of North America, and a large part of South Africa.
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