Draconid meteor shower to light up the skies

Oct. 8 (UPI) — Get ready for a modest midweek meteor shower. That’s what the Draconids promise to deliver.

Though meteors will continue to streak across the night sky through Thursday, Tuesday night likely offers the best chance to see at least a handful of shooting stars — that is if the weather cooperates.

And while the Draconids aren’t typically dramatic, it’s possible they could surprise some patient sky gazers.

“Meteor showers are notorious for defying the most carefully crafted forecasts,” according to EarthSky. “So you never know for sure what’s up in a meteor shower unless you look.”

Giving ghe Draconids a chance won’t cost you much sleep; the best viewing will be in the early evening, during the few hours after dusk — no need to stay up past midnight.

The Draconid meteor shower is caused by the intersection of Earth’s orbit with the trail of debris left by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. When the bits of ice and dust left behind by the comet collide with Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up, creating bright streaks across the night sky.

The best viewing will be in the Northern Hemisphere. The shooting stars will appear to emanate from the Draco constellation, located above the Big Dipper and Polaris.

Because the moon is almost full, only the brightest meteors are likely to visible to the naked eye. While this year’s Draconid shower is likely to be less-than-stellar, the meteor shower occasionally produces banner shows — like in 2011 and 2018.

“Most years, we pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by,” Bill Cooke, who heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said in a news release. “Occasionally, though, we hit one nearly head on — and the fireworks begin.”

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