The 2018 Draconid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak on October 8. A new Moon will allow viewers to easily see the shooting stars.
Two Meteor Showers in October
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, and are created when the Earth passes through the dust debris left by comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner. The comet takes about 6.6 years to make a single revolution around the Sun.
Although 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 is the second meteor shower in October. It usually peaks around October 21.
Where Can I See the Draconids?
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 a few meteors from the Draconids.
While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower, astronomers suggest locating the Draco the Dragon's two brightest stars, Eltanin and Rastaban. The meteor shower seems to emerge from the dragon’s head.
When to View the Draconids
Unlike other meteor showers, the best time to view the Draconids is just after the Sun sets and right before nightfall. This is because, the Draconids’ radiant point - the point in the sky where the meteor shower seems to come from - is highest in the sky during dusk. The shower peaks around October 7 and 8 every year.
What Time Does the Meteor Shower Peak?
The table is updated daily and shows the position of the Draconids radiant in the sky for the upcoming night. Use the date drop down above the Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map to change dates.
|Draconids meteor shower for Washington DC (Night between October 8 and October 9)|
|Mon 7:00 pm||321°||68.1°|
|Mon 8:00 pm||313°||60.1°|
|Mon 9:00 pm||311°||51.3°|
|Mon 10:00 pm||312°||42.5°|
|Mon 11:00 pm||315°||34.0°|
|Tue 12:00 midnight||320°||26.1°|
|Tue 1:00 am||325°||19.0°|
|Tue 2:00 am||332°||12.9°|
|Tue 3:00 am||339°||8.1°|
|Tue 4:00 am||348°||4.8°|
|Tue 5:00 am||356°||3.3°|
|Tue 6:00 am||5°||3.4°|
|Tue 7:00 am||14°||5.3°|
Direction to see the Draconids in the sky:
- Azimuth is the direction, based on true north; a compass might show a slightly different value.
- Altitude is height in degrees over horizon.
How to See the Draconids
You don't need any special equipment or a lot of skills to view a meteor shower. Even though all you really need is a clear sky, lots of patience, and our handy Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map with a visibility conditions meter to see a meteor shower, the following tips can help maximize your shooting star viewing experience.
- Find a secluded viewing spot, away from the city lights. Once at the venue, your eyes may take 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the dark.
- Dress for the weather, and make sure you are comfortable, especially if you plan to stay out long. Bring a blanket or a comfortable chair with you—meteor watching can be a waiting game.
- Once you have found your viewing spot, lie down on the ground and look up in the direction of the radiant. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map or the table above to find the current direction of the radiant in the sky.