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2014 Draconid meteor shower

Illustration image

Draconids are also sometimes known as Giacobinids.

©iStockphoto.com/Clint Spencer

The 2014 Draconid meteor shower will peak on October 7. The best time to view the shower for those in the Northern Hemisphere is right after nightfall. Unfortunately, a full Moon will make it harder to view it.

The Draconid meteor shower, also sometimes known as the Giacobinids, is one of the two meteor showers to annually grace the skies in October. The Draconids owe their name to the constellation Draco the Dragon, the shower’s radiant point, and are created when the Earth passes through the dust debris left by comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner. The comet takes around 6.6 years to make a single revolution around the Sun.

While, the Draconids have been responsible for some of the most spectacular meteor showers in recorded history, most recently in 2011, most astronomers and sky gazers consider these to be one of the least interesting meteor showers in during the year.

The Orionids are the second meteor shower in October. They usually peak around October 21.


Where to view

Viewers in Northern America, Europe and Asia are the best situated to enjoy the Draconids. Those closer to the Equator in the Southern Hemisphere can also sometimes see few of meteors from the Draconids.

While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lay down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – astronomers suggest locating the constellations two brightest stars, Eltanin and Rastaban. The meteor shower seems to emerge from the dragon’s head.

When to view

Unlike its counterparts, the best time to view the Draconids is just after the Sun sets and right before nightfall. This is because, the Draconids’ radiant point is highest in the sky during dusk. The shower peaks around October 7 and 8 every year.

How to view

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Draconids:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Location in the sky

The Draconids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Oct 8, 2014, table below is for that date:
Draconids meteor shower for New York (Night between Oct 8 and Oct 9)
TimeAzimuth/
Direction
Altitude
Wed 7:00 PM316°Northwest67.7°
Wed 8:00 PM310°Northwest59.3°
Wed 9:00 PM309°Northwest50.5°
Wed 10:00 PM311°Northwest41.8°
Wed 11:00 PM315°Northwest33.5°
Midnight Wed-Thu320°Northwest25.8°
Thu 1:00 AM326°North-northwest19.0°
Thu 2:00 AM333°North-northwest13.3°
Thu 3:00 AM341°North-northwest8.9°
Thu 4:00 AM350°North6.1°
Thu 5:00 AM358°North4.9°
Thu 6:00 AMNorth5.4°
Note: times are for Oct 8, 2014.
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