October is shaping up to be a pretty great month for astronomical events. Not only does it offer two chances to see a full moon—with one involving an appearance by Mars, too—there are also a few meteor showers on the night sky schedule. And as it turns out, one is happening this week. Here’s how to catch the Draconid meteor shower tonight.
What is the Draconid meteor shower?
The Draconid meteor shower happens every year, with some displays being more impressive than others. (For example, in 1933, observers in Europe saw as many as 500 Draconids per minute.) We’re unlikely to see something like that again, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the peek outside tonight to potentially catch a glimpse of some shooting stars (just another word for meteors).
How to watch the Draconid meteor shower
Each year, this meteor shower is active from Oct. 6 – 10. It was initially predicted that last night, Oct. 7, would be the peak, though that was just a guess. Your chances of seeing some shooting stars tonight are probably just as good. There may even be more opportunities through Saturday night, so keep an eye on the sky.
According to EarthSky, regardless of your location, the best time to view the Draconid meteor shower is at nightfall or early evening, and definitely before midnight. This is because the waning gibbous moon (which is about 75% illuminated) won’t rise until mid-to-late evening, making it darker at nightfall and increasing your chances of seeing the meteoric display.
The meteor shower will be more visible in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere, although “even at northerly latitudes, the Draconids are typically a very modest shower, offering only a handful of slow-moving meteors per hour,” according to EarthSky.
More meteors to come
If the Draconid meteor shower isn’t everything you hoped it would be (which is a distinct possibility), don’t worry—you’ll have other chances to see meteors this month. Specifically, the Orionids will peak on the nights of Oct. 20 – 21. Stay tuned: we’ll provide you with more astronomical information closer to that date.