Yes, it’s time to look to the heavens again as skygazers get the chance to once again witness a spectacular celestial display.
Later this month we will all be able to catch a glimpse of the famous Orionid meteor shower, but before that there’s another treat lined up.
Coming from the direction of the constellation of Draco the dragon, the Draconid meteor shower can be extremely varied in the number of shooting stars you can see.
Here’s, courtesy of our colleagues at the Mirror , is everything you need to know about this year’s shower so you can be fully prepared.
When is the Draconid meteor shower?
This year, the Draconid meteor shower will peak on Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8.
There is a chance that light from a rising moon may cause issues for skywatchers, but the best option is still to head as far away from light pollution as possible.
Many meteor showers are most active before dawn, but the best time to see the Draconids is in the evening. The peak is expected at around 7pm on Sunday.
If you miss the Draconids, watch out for the Orionid meteor shower later this month.
What are the Draconids?
Like other meteor showers, the Draconids are caused by Earth’s atmosphere coming into contact with debris rock and dust from a passing comet.
In this case, it’s the comet Giacobini-Zinner, which orbits the sun every 6.6 years.
Also known as 21P, it was discovered by Michel Giacobini on December 20, 1900, with another sighting in 1913 earning Ernst Zinner a joint name check.
As the Earth passes through the comet’s tail, some of the rock and dust burns up in our atmosphere, causing a meteor shower of shooting stars.
How many meteors are there?
Occasionally, the meteor shower produces a huge amount of activity – known as an ‘outburst’ – but that’s not predicted to happen this year.
In 2012, watchers reported up to 1,000 meteors per hour.
“We must warn you that this shower is often a sleeper, even in a dark sky completely free of moonlight,” warns the EarthSky astronomy website.
“But watch out if the Dragon awakes, which is always a possibility!”
Where is the best place to see the Draconids?
The Draconids are best viewed as far north as possible – so the likes of Scotland, Canada and parts of northern Russia are sometimes cited as the best locations. They can be seen in Northern America, Europe and Asia.
The best thing to do is to get yourself as far away from light pollution as possible.
You won’t need any specialist equipment to see the meteor shower. Even though the shower comes from a specific constellation in the sky, it should still be viewable in all parts of the sky.
Perhaps invest in a sleeping back or reclining chair so you can lie back and watch the sky comfortably. Just remember to wrap up warm.
Northumberland National Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky, it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens.