Draconids shine; 1st of 2 October meteor showers

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ST. GEORGE – Stargazers may get a treat Thursday and Friday as the Draconid meteor shower peaks around nightfall.

The Draconids are one of the easier showers of the year to view because the best viewing time is in the early evening rather than the predawn hours, according to Earthsky.org. The waning crescent moon will darken the sky as well, adding to the viewing experience.

While only a handful of meteors per hour are expected, you never know for sure – this shower has been known to rain down hundreds or even thousands of meteors in an hour.

A shower like the Draconids does not have particles big enough to make it all the way down to Earth, according to Space.com. The particles burn up high in the atmosphere and are generally slow moving, which distinguishes them from other random meteors you may see.

The extremely slow-moving Draconid meteors radiate from the head of Draco the Dragon, near the stars Eltanin and Rastaban. However, you don’t have to locate Draco the Dragon to watch the Draconids, because they fly every which way through the starry sky.

While the Draconids appear to be coming from the constellation Draco, in reality they are remnants of debris shed by Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which orbits the sun once every 6.5 years. Around 1900, according to a NASA description, the comet ejected a stream of particles that intersects Earth’s orbit, spawning the annual meteor display.

For the best viewing experience, find a dark, open sky away from artificial lights and plan to spend a few hours lounging comfortably under the stars.

Bring a reclining lawn chair, have your feet point in a general north or northwest direction and look upward. If you don’t know your cardinal directions, just lie down and look upward.

Enjoy! You might see some meteors.

If you are unable to catch a glimpse of the Draconids, the popular Orionids will peak later this month on Oct. 22.

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  • Brian October 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for posting this, and for the clear instructions!

  • John October 9, 2015 at 10:56 am

    The Braconids is a short and minor shower that peaked last night or this morning, and people aren’t likely to see much tonight. If you do see a slow meteor coming from the direction of the head of Draco you saw a Draconid — and congratulations! But I wouldn’t make a special effort to look for them.

  • sagemoon October 9, 2015 at 7:50 pm


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