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Draconid meteor shower could light up skies over Britain this week

Rob Waugh
·Contributor
·2-min read
VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA  OCTOBER 10, 2018: The night sky over Russky Island during the Draconid meteor shower. Yuri Smityuk/TASS (Photo by Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images)
The Draconids in 2018 over Vladivostok (Photo by Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images)

The Draconid meteor shower could see shooting stars light up the evening skies over Britain this week.

The annual Draconid meteor shower will go on until the 16th October, but the peak is expected this week on October 8.

Stargazers are advised that the best time to see the meteor shower is in the evening (unlike most meteor showers, which peak in the early hours), according to Royal Museums Greenwich.

The Draconid meteors are caused when Earth collides with bits of debris shed by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

Watch: What is a Meteor shower?

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They’re called Draconids, as the meteors appear to travel from a point near the head of Draco the Dragon, a constellation (which is visible all year for most people with a view of the northern sky).

Space experts say that the Draconids can be a little unpredictable, and don’t always deliver a big display.

Bruce McClure of Earthsky writes, “The Draconid shower is usually a sleeper, rarely offering more than five meteors per hour.

“But watch out if the Dragon awakes! The Draconid meteor shower produced awesome meteor displays in 1933 and 1946, with thousands of meteors per hour seen in those years. European observers saw over 600 meteors per hour in 2011.”

“We’re not expecting any outburst this year, in 2020. But, then, no one really knows for sure.

“For people who enjoy meteor showers, that’s part of the fun! As a wise person once said, meteor showers are like fishing. You go, and sometimes you catch something.”

The comet orbits the sun once every 6.6 years, leaving tendrils of dust in its wake.

Usually the Draconid meteor shower delivers no more than 10 to 20 meteors per hour at its peak.

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Royal Museums Greenwich advise, "Meteor showers are best seen with a good, clear view of the stars on a night with no clouds.

"Try to find somewhere with dark skies, an unobstructed horizon and very little light pollution

Make sure there are no direct sources of light in your eyes, so that you can fully adapt to the local conditions and ensure that fainter meteors become visible.

“There’s no advantage to using binoculars or a telescope; just look up with your own eyes to take in the widest possible view of the sky.”

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