How To See The Draconid Meteor Shower In 2016, Because The Northern Hemisphere Will Have A Great View
A new zodiac sign, a Black Moon, and now the Draconid meteor shower? Every starry event this fall has stirred up quite a bit of excitement, and this upcoming meteor shower is no different. There are a few things you need to know about how to see the Draconid meteor shower when it peaks on Oct. 7; that's when you're most likely to see the highest number of meteors falling from the sky, so it's worth preparing for it well in advance.
The Draconid meteor shower happens once a year in October, when meteors seemingly burst out of the northern constellation Draco the Dragon — hence the name. It's also known as the Giacobinids, since the meteors come from the Giacobini-Zinner comet, which orbits the sun every 6.6 years or so. When Earth and the Giacobini-Zinner comet cross each other's paths, the result we see is the Draconid meteor shower. Pretty neat, right?
Just because a meteor shower happens annually doesn't make it any less magical; indeed, history tells us that the Draconid meteor shower is a hit-or-miss each year, which just adds to the allure. Sometimes, the star show is absolutely wondrous and produces tons of meteors for us to fawn over, as it did in 1933 and 1946; other years, though, have been a little more anti-climactic.
The nice thing is that you don't actually have to find Draco the Dragon in the sky in order to enjoy the meteor shower, since these meteors "fall down" in all directions. Here's what you need to know for upping your chances of getting a glimpse at a shooting star or two this year:
1. Cancel Your Dinner Plans
A lot of meteor showers require an early trek out of bed before dawn, and since you may or may not see a bunch of falling stars, the morning struggle may not be worth it for some people. Luckily, the best time to view the Draconid meteor shower is in the early evening right after sunset. Cancel those dinner plans, find out when sunset is for your area on Oct. 7, and bring your friends along. What's a better way to enjoy a Friday night than watching a bunch of stars shoot out of a dragon's mouth?
2. Get Away From Town
Fall is probably the coziest season to go stargazing. After all, you get to bundle up and drink hot chocolate without having to worry about mosquitoes eating your legs. To watch the Draconid meteor shower, drive away from any sort of light pollution so it's easier to see the shooting stars. A grassy field works (although again, go with a couple of pals so you're not just lying in a field alone at night — that could be a little scary). It's also worth noting that the people who are most likely to see the meteor shower are those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States, Canada, Europe and even northern Asia, so you might want to make sure you're located in one of those areas.
3. Look North or Northwest
As I mentioned previously, you'll probably get to see the Draconid meteor shower from any direction. But if you're sitting up, watch the sky in the north or northwest for best results. If you're lying down, just gaze straight up.
4. Try Again The Next Day
This meteor shower averages around 10 to 20 meteors per hour, which isn't much. If you didn't see any meteors on the first night (or if you simply want to see more), you might have some luck the day after on Oct. 8. There's still a chance that you'll be able to catch one or two falling stars. Staying out two nights in a row isn't too much to ask for — this meteor shower only happens once a year, after all!
Images: Giphy (4)