How to Watch Draconid Meteor Showers as Shooting Stars Appear in the Night Sky This Weekend

SKYGAZERS are set for celestial fireworks this weekend, with up to 10 meteors visible every hour.

The Draconid Meteor Shower occurs every October and can be seen with the naked eye.

A picture of the draconian meteor shower in Northumberland last year


A picture of the draconian meteor shower in Northumberland last yearCredit: PA

Although it begins tonight, the spectacle will culminate on Saturday afternoon.

Experts say the best time to see it is in the evening when it gets darker.

Tania de Sales Marques, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told the PA news agency: “The Draconids are a short-lived meteor shower, active from 6th to 10th October and expected to peak around 2pm UK time at a rate of 10 meteors per Hour.

“Draco will be at the highest point in the sky after sunset on the 8th, heading north, but the full moon will also rise, brightening the sky and making it difficult to spot fainter meteors.”

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Sometimes thousands shoot by, but meteors are often too small and fast to spot so many without a telescope.

If you want to try and spot the larger ones that are visible, your best chances are in a rural area away from light pollution.

Even sky watchers have to get their eyes used to the dark.

“As with any other skywatching activity, make sure you have an unobstructed view of the sky, as far away from light sources as possible,” continued de Sales Marques.

“Remember to dress warmly now that the evenings are colder and wait about 15 to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness before looking for meteors.”

And if you don’t get a chance to see the shower on Saturday, fear not.

It will remain visible until October 10, so you can try again on Sunday.

Fortunately, there are two meteor shower events in October. So if you miss this one, you may still be able to experience the Orionid Shower in a few weeks.

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The Draconid meteor shower, also known as the Giacobinids, is named after the constellation Draco, the dragon.

The streaks originate from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which orbits the Sun for six and a half years.

What is the difference between an asteroid, a meteor and a comet?

Here’s what you need to know, according to Nasa…

  • Asteroid: An asteroid is a small body of rock orbiting the sun. Most are in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter), but they can be found anywhere (including on a path that can hit Earth).
  • Meteoroid: When two asteroids collide, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
  • Meteor: When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vaporize and then becomes a meteor. On Earth it will look like a streak of light in the sky as the rock burns up
  • Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t fully vaporize and survive the journey through Earth’s atmosphere, it can end up on Earth. At that point it becomes a meteorite
  • Comet: A comet orbits the sun like asteroids. However, a comet is not primarily made of rock, but contains a lot of ice and gas, which can cause amazing tails to form behind it (thanks to the evaporation of ice and dust).

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