Draconid Meteor Rain 2021: How and When to See

The Draconids are notoriously “sleepy” showers, producing only five meteors per hour most years, according to EarthSky. The weekend’s shower is expected to be that kind of “slow show,” but the adviser from the American Meteor Society, Robert Lunsford, said the Draconids have been producing thousands of meteors for some years.

“Seeing Draconids will see some history because this meteor shower has created historic events in the past,” Lunsford said.

The draconids are optimal for early birds, because unlike other showers that peak after midnight, this one becomes visible at night as soon as the sky gets dark. This will also be one of the last meteor shows before colder weather comes in late October and November.

Do not bother to use a telescope, because it would limit your view of the sky. The naked eye is the best instrument for tracking these shooting stars. Meteor showers will be sporadic, so grab a lawn and plan to sit outside for a while.

For the best view, try to find a place without so much light pollution. The rising crescent, just a piece of the sky, will not hide meteor showers this year. Reaching a higher altitude and facing north can also help increase visibility.

When you look up at the sky on Friday, you can see more satellites than meteors (the latter traveling much faster), but Lunsford said it’s the perfect opportunity to practice identifying constellations.

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The radiation point of the shower, where meteors appear to appear, is at the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon, after which the shower is named. But meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. People in the northern hemisphere get a better overview of this meteor shower.

The dragon is not always sleepy. Draconides are classified as varying showers, Lunsford said. While other showers are consistent from year to year, variable showers can produce thousands of meteors one year or only a handful the next.

In 1933 and 1946, the Draconid meteor shower produced thousands of meteors per hour, and in 2018, the comet came the closest it has to Earth in 72 years, according to EarthSky.

Fans of the Draconid shower may have more luck spying on meteors in 2025. That’s when Comet 21P / Giacobini-Zinner, which produces this meteor shower, passes closer to Earth, according to EarthSky. The comet orbits the sun every 6.6 years, and debris from this comet creates Draconid meteor showers.

Meteor showers to look forward to

If the Draconid shower is too sleepy for you, there are other meteor showers you can catch during the rest of 2021, according to EarthSky’s 2021 meteor shower guide:
  • October 21: Orionids
  • November 4: Southern Taurids
  • 11.-12. November: Nordtaurider
  • November 17: Leonider
  • 13.-14. December: Geminids
  • Dec 22: Ursids

Orionid meteor showers that produce faster showers will peak in the morning of October 21st. But because the moon will be close to full, the visibility may not be so clear.

The Taurid shower, known to appear as light fireballs, will peak in early to mid-November. The best time to see the Taurids is after midnight.


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