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Draconids meteor shower peaks tonight – with up to five shooting stars an hour
October 8, 2020
Skygazers are in for a treat tonight as the Draconid meteor shower reaches its peak, and will be visible across the UK.
Earth will pass through a cloud of dust left behind from the Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner – creating a spectacle for all those who look up to the skies.
If you trace the path the meteors take, they seem to originate from the constellation of Draco.
This is how the Draconids, also known as the Giacobinids, were named – after Draco the Dragon.
Those lucky enough to see it will spot shooting stars, creating a dazzling light display.
These shooting stars are the debris from the comet striking the Earth’s atmosphere at speed.
When to watch Draconids meteor shower
The Draconids will peak during the night of October 8, and will be visible until the early morning of October 9.
While most meteor showers are best seen in the early hours, the best time to see the Draconids is in the evening, after nightfall.
The reason for this is that the meteor's radiant point is the highest in the sky at nightfall.
It’s estimated that around five shooting stars will be visible every hour.
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Anna Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “The number of meteor seen during the peak night varies quite a lot from year to year – usually there will only be around 5-20 meteors per hour visible but some years there have been reports of thousands per hour spotted.”
If you don’t manage to see them tonight, there will be other opportunities over the next week.
A second meteor shower, the Orionids, will peak later this month on October 22.
Where to watch the meteor shower
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The Draconids will be visible in the UK night sky, and whether permitted, you should be able to see them from anywhere.
Ms Ross said: “For the best chances to spot them, find a dark area of clear sky and allow around 20 minutes to let your eyes adapt to the dark.
“It may also be advisable to lie down as you may be looking up for a long time.”
You don’t need any special equipment such as binoculars or a telescope.