Draconid 2023 meteor shower tonight: How to see the rare peak this October

The Draconid meteor bathe peaks tonight, and though thought of a minor bathe, situations are trying affordable. One other bathe, the Southern Taurids are additionally in full swing, whereas the Orionids too, started on 2 October. So, in case you’re fortunate, you would possibly have the ability to spot a Draconid, Orionid and a Taurid fireball!

With the Leonids bathe nonetheless to look ahead to in November and the Geminids in December, it is perhaps helpful to plan forward. We’ve pulled collectively a calendar of all of the 12 months’s meteor showers, to provide the greatest likelihood of recognizing some capturing stars.

When is the Draconid meteor bathe in 2023?

The Draconid meteor bathe – additionally known as the Giacobinids meteor bathe, or just Draconids – started on 6 October 2023 and can stay seen for simply 4 days, till 10 October.  

The bathe, though short-lived, peaks tonight on 8 October within the early night by way of to the early hours of 9 October.

When is the most effective time to see the Draconid meteor bathe?

The most effective time to see the Draconids is from dusk on the 8 October, to the early morning hours of 9 October. The waning crescent Moon, which doesn’t rise till 00:54 on 9 October within the UK (01:54 native time in New York Metropolis, 02:07 in Los Angeles) is simply at 25 per cent illumination, so won’t intervene with proceedings.

In contrast to different meteor showers that are greatest seen within the early morning hours, the Draconids are considerably of an oddity, as they’re greatest seen within the night. Excellent news for these of us who like going to mattress at an affordable hour.

It’s because the radiant level inside Draco, is at its highest within the sky simply after sundown:

“The optimum viewing time for this meteor bathe is within the night, after dusk, because the radiant level of the bathe reaches its highest level in that constellation of the night time sky right now,” explains Dr Minjae Kim, an astronomy analysis fellow on the College of Warwick.

maximise your probabilities of recognizing a Draconid: Viewing ideas

You do not want binoculars or a telescope to look at a meteor bathe. In reality, it’s higher in case you don’t use them. To maximise your likelihood of recognizing meteors – and get as broad a subject of view as attainable – your eyes are the most effective instrument. We are able to’t predict exactly the place the capturing stars will seem, as they are going to streak throughout the entire sky.

“To completely recognize this celestial occasion, minimal mild air pollution is right. Discover a location with an unobstructed horizon that provides a transparent view of the celebrities on a darkish, cloud-free night time,” says Kim.

To maximise your probabilities of recognizing a Draconid, head outdoors within the night after darkish and let your eyes alter for round 20 minutes. For those who can, attempt to keep away from areas of sunshine air pollution and discover a spot the place you possibly can absorb as a lot of the sky as attainable. Because the radiant is straight overhead, it’s a pleasant excuse to scoot out a recliner and get comfy.  

But when all else fails, the Taurid meteor bathe remains to be going, and the Orionids have simply begun (peaking 20-21 October), so in case you can, take note of which course the meteors come from – and also you’ll get an thought as as to if you noticed a Draconid, Orionid or Taurid.  

The place to search for Draconid meteor bathe

The radiant, the purpose within the sky from which the meteors seem to emanate, is within the constellation of Draco the Dragon. As a circumpolar constellation within the northern sky, the dragon wraps round Polaris, the north star for the northern hemisphere. It weaves between the Large Dipper (aka the Plough) in Ursa Main and Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper asterism), with the top of the dragon close to the foot of the Hercules constellation.

It is excessive overhead, and covers a number of the sky (Draco is a BIG constellation). To seek out it, find Polaris and the lip of the saucepan in Ursa Main, then lengthen an imaginary line between the 2. You’ll hit Giausar, a semi-regular pulsating star that makes up the very tip of Draco’s tail.

However though the radiant is the place Draconids seem to originate, they are going to be seen over the entire sky. So, search for – and check out to absorb as a lot of the sky in your imaginative and prescient as attainable. If the climate stays fantastic – a recliner (and a cuppa) will do the trick.

For those who’re nonetheless struggling to search out Draco within the night time sky, utilizing an app might assist (examine our greatest astronomy apps).

What causes the Draconid meteor bathe?

The Draconid meteor bathe happens – like most meteor showers – when Earth’s orbit passes by way of the path of mud and particles left by a comet, on this case, Comet 21/P Giacobini-Zinner. For that reason, the Draconids are additionally generally often called the Giacobinids. When the bathe reaches its peak, that’s once we’re passing by way of the densest a part of the mud stream.

With an orbit of simply 6.6 years, Comet Giacobini-Zinner is a short-period comet. It’s additionally a small comet, estimated to have a nucleus simply 2km in diameter. In 2018, it was found that the comet is depleted in carbon dioxide and carbon-chain molecules, which signifies that it could have originated in a comparatively heat a part of the Photo voltaic System.

What number of meteors will we have the ability to see?

The variety of meteors that we will anticipate to see from the Draconid meteor bathe is variable. Most showers are comparatively weak, with round 5-10 meteors per hour (in actuality, it is prone to be much less).

Nevertheless, infrequently, Earth’s orbit intersects with a very dense patch of particles leading to a extra spectacular bathe. There have additionally been a number of meteor storms related to this bathe; again in 1933 a whopping 500 Draconids per minute had been seen in Europe. And if we return to October 1946, there was a Draconid storm the place folks in Canada counted over 2000 meteors – round 50 to 100 per minute. Equally, fewer showers had been additionally noticed in 1926, 1952 and 1985, however the bathe has considerably calmed down since then.

And it’s (probably) right down to gravitational interference from Jupiter that we now not expertise these Draconid storms. This meddling, known as ‘perturbations’, from the fuel big has modified the comet’s orbit sufficient in order that the particles path now not passes as near Earth’s orbit because it used to.

All in, subsequently, 2023 seems set to be a quite regular 12 months, the place we will solely anticipate to see a handful of meteors per hour. That being mentioned, a late rising, waning crescent Moon plus a transparent forecast, means situations are affordable, so it’s price a gander in case you can.

What else can I see within the night time sky tonight?

With Draconids few and much between, you would possibly wish to flip your consideration to a different goal when you wait. A shiny Jupiter* might be seen on the japanese horizon as darkness falls on 8 October, and can stay above the horizon all night time. As we strategy opposition on 3 November 2023, it’s getting brighter nonetheless, basically giving us a ‘full’ Jupiter. It’s a stunning sight, and with a pair of binoculars, it’s also possible to select the 4 Galilean Moons: Callisto, Europa, Io, and Ganymede as quickly because it’s darkish.

When you’re anticipating these elusive Draconids, why not play a recreation of disguise and search with Io? Jupiter will occult (cross in entrance of) its moon Io each 1.77 Earth days (i.e., one Io orbit round Jupiter). For those who check out Jupiter after darkish (sundown is at 6:23pm from London, 6:26pm in New York Metropolis, and 6:29pm in Los Angeles), you’ll not have the ability to see Io till it begins to peek out from behind Jupiter at round 9:30pm, when it is going to look as if it’s virtually touching Jupiter.

In the meantime, Saturn is seen greater within the sky in the direction of the southeast, within the constellation Aquarius.

*Jupiter will shine at magnitude -2.69 which is brighter than even Sirius, the brightest star within the night time sky at -1.46 magnitude (the decrease the magnitude quantity, the brighter the item).


About our knowledgeable

Dr Minjae Kim is a analysis fellow within the astronomy and astrophysics group on the College of Warwick. He’s the ESA mission lead engaged on the mud of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko collected by Rosetta/MIDAS, with the intention of understanding comet and mud progress within the early Photo voltaic System.


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