Amateur astronomers and photographers alike are about to enjoy the year’s “easiest” meteor shower. While the peaks of most meteor showers are best witnessed after midnight, this Tuesday’s Draconids will be at their best straight after sunset. That makes the Draconids easily the most accessible of all our planet’s regular meteor showers. Although the Draconids are best viewed on Tuesday, some may also appear on Monday and Wednesday.
Although it not necessary to look north, the “radiant point” of the Draconids – where they appear to arrive from – is the Draco the Dragon constellation.
This is a huge constellation snaking its way around the northern sky.
Draco the Dragon is a circumpolar constellation, so it never sets, and is presently high in the sky above the Big Dipper.
The Draconids is the only major meteor shower with radiant point in a northern circumpolar constellation, meaning shooting stars are visible straight after sunset.
When is the 2019 Draconid meteor shower?
The Draconid shower is active every year from October 6 to October 10.
Stray Draconid meteors may appear late night at night over this period.
But the real spectacle will occur on one night only during the shower’s peak.
This year, the peak is expected to fall on the night of October 8 to October 9.
Astronomer Deborah Byrd of EarthSky.org said: “The best evening to watch is likely October 8; try the evenings of October 7 and 9 also.
“This shower favours the Northern Hemisphere but Southern Hemisphere observers might catch some Draconids too.
“Unfortunately, the large bright evening Moon will hinder this year’s Draconid shower.
“It’ll likely drown all but the brightest meteors in its glare.”
On Tuesday, the night of the peak, the Moon will be around 76 percent illuminated – the Waxing Gibbous phase.