What is the Draconid meteor shower?
- As the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner orbits the sun, it leaves a trail of debris which the Earth crashes into every October. As the debris burns up in our atmosphere, it produces the meteor shower that we call the Draconids.
- The rate of meteors depends on which part of the comet’s trail lies in the Earth’s path. In most years, the Draconids are relatively quiet and produce few meteors.
- However, in 1933 and 1946 the Draconids delivered some of the most impressive meteor showers in the 20th century, with thousands of meteors seen each hour. Maybe this year could be another spectacular show?
When is the best time to see the Draconid meteor shower in 2022?
- The best time to see the Draconids in 2022 is during the evening on Saturday 8th October.
- Unfortunately, there’s also a full moon this year at around the same time, so viewing conditions will be poor. Dark, clear skies are always best for seeing meteors.
- However, the Draconids will start appearing from 6th October, so keep your eyes peeled. The number of meteors will increase steadily each night until their peak on 8-9th October and then disappear completely after 10th October.
How can I see the Draconids meteor shower from the UK?
- You don’t need any special equipment to see the Draconids meteor shower from the UK but a bit of preparation is a good idea.
- First, check the weather forecast. If it’s going to be cloudy, then try the days before the peak viewing period.
- Next, find a dark (but safe!) place with a clear view away from buildings, trees, and street lights. The Draconids can appear in any part of the sky, so the more you can see the better.
- Also, make sure you turn off all torches and phones for 15 minutes so that your eyes can adjust to the darkness. If you need to use a torch, then consider buying one with a red filter.
- Finally, make sure that you’re warm and comfortable. The Draconids can be viewed for many hours, so a reclining chair and refreshing beverages are an excellent idea.
If you are planning to take pictures of meteors, Mary McIntyre has some very useful tips for you on how to take better meteor pictures.
Another great way to watch the Perseids is to buy or build yourself a meteor camera. You’ll be able to create amazing time lapse videos like the one below and join the UK network of over 170 meteor cameras. You don’t need any previous experience and it’s a great project to do with your kids or students!