Where To See The Draconids Meteor Shower

The first of two spectacular meteor showers that light up the October night skies is expected to peak over the next few nights.

The Draconid 2016 meteor shower is visible to watchers in North America, Europe and Asia, with the number and brightness of meteors best on the night of Saturday, October 8, just before night fall.

For anyone who wants to peek at the meteor shower, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Draconids.

Where do you look?

Astronomers suggest just lying down and looking up at the sky to enjoy the Draconids. The shower seems to emanate from the head of the Draco (Dragon) constellation, hence the name.

Try and identify the stars Eltanin and Rastaban from a map of the sky. The meteor shower is named after the constellation where they appear to come from as part of an astronomical convention.

Of course, this is an illusion as the real source of the meteors is dust and debris from the Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner grazing the Earth’s atmosphere.

Do I need a telescope?

No. The naked eye is fine during the peak of the shower.

It’s a good idea to get to somewhere with a big, dark sky outside of a city or town. The darker the sky, the more meteors you are likely to see.

The display will last a couple of hours, so lie on a blanket or take a comfortable seat outside.

In some places, the new moon may brighten the sky and interfere with viewing the meteorites.

What will I see?

It’s hard to predict, but the Draconids can release hundreds or even thousands of meteors every hour.

In 2011, astronomers counted around 600 meteors an hour but the number can vary widely from sighting to sighting.

Can I see the Draconids from south of the equator?

Possibly if you are near the equator as Draco does not rise in the southern hemisphere at this time of year.

What is Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner?

This comet takes 6.6 years to orbit the Earth and reaches as close to the Sun as the Earth and as far away as Jupiter.

The comet is named after Michel Giacobini, who first observed it in 1900. In 1913, another astronomer, Ernst Zinner saw the comet again and his name was added to the title.