The Draconid Meteor Shower Peaks Soon. Here's How to See It.
The first meteor shower of fall will peak this weekend, but it's not likely to blow you away.
For stargazers, fall is something like the last gasp before the plunge. It's a great time to get your cosmic fill before the weather turns frigid, and it takes something truly special to drag you out of the house at midnight to sit in a field looking up at realms beyond our own atmosphere.
The small but occasionally mighty Draconid meteor shower arrives this week, but it isn't likely to sate your celestial wanderlust through the long winter. The shower lasts for only a handful of days and is expected to reach its peak on the night of October 9 in the US, per EarthSky. However, there are some factors making it a little less exciting this year.
Like so many meteor showers in 2022, the moon is going to be a problem. The full moon lands right next to the peak and its light will be enough to obscure many if not most of the meteors produced by the Draconids. Even in the days around the peak and full moon, the moon will be up at sunset, according to Time and Date. It's not a great combination.
The Draconids are an oddity among meteor showers. Instead of the radiant reaching its highest point around or after midnight, it is at its highest just as the sky starts to get dark, per EarthSky. But with the moon already risen at sunset, there isn't a chance to get out and see meteors before the bright moon rises.
Under ideal conditions, which, again, we do not have, you might see around ten Draconids per hour. There are instances when the Draconids have rocketed hundreds of meteors per hour, but those are rare occurrences and an outburst like that is not expected to take place this year. Things are, however, looking much brighter for the Orionid meteor shower, which peaks later in October.
Ready to go stargazing?
Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.