Draconids will look like constellation of the dragon is shooting blasts of fire across the night sky.
Watch out for the dragon that will soon be spitting fire down on the Earth.
It sounds like something from Game of Thrones – get ready for the Draconids.
They are shooting stars from the direction of the constellation Draco, the dragon, which will look like it’s raining fire from the heavens.
The constellation’s name comes from the latin ‘draconem’ which means ‘huge serpent’, as it’s a long chain of stars that appears to snake its way through the far northern sky.
One of the stars in Draco was once the North Star – essential for early navigation – back in Ancient Egyptian times when the pyramids were being built, but that changed in 2000BC due to the gradual shift in the Earth’s axis over time.
So when and how can you see the Draconids?
What are the Draconids?
The Draconids are a meteor shower consisting of rock and dust from the comet Giacobini–Zinner, which orbits the sun every 6.6 years. For that reason, they are sometimes called the Giacobinids.
The meteor shower is caused when Earth passes through the comet’s tail – a long trail of debris.
Some of the rock and dust is knocked out of place and falls into the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up and creating shooting stars across the night sky.
They are among the most variable meteor showers, ranging from tens to thousands of shooting stars per hour.
In 1933 and 1946, around 10,000 shooting stars could be seen EVERY HOUR as the Earth passed through a very dense section of debris and created dazzling meteor storms.
Up to 1,000 meteors per hour were seen in 2012.
These large numbers are technically known as outbursts.
So what can you expect to see in 2018?
No outbursts are expected this year but astronomers can never be totally certain. We’ll keep you updated if predictions change.
When do the Draconids happen?
In 2018, the peak is expected to be on Monday, October 8, and Tuesday, October 9.
How do you watch them?
Unlike most other meteor showers, the Draconids are best seen in the evening after sunset, and not in the early hours before dawn the next day.
So watch out for them as soon as night falls.
Astronomers suggest first pinpointing the Draco constellation – as the meteors appear to come from the dragon’s head – but you should be able to see the shooting stars in all parts of the sky, providing there is clear weather.
Spend an hour or so under the night sky, preferably away from the ‘light pollution’ caused by built-up areas.
But if there is an amazing display of hundreds or even thousands of shooting stars, you’ll be able to see them anywhere, even with a bright moon.
You don’t need any special equipment, they can be seen with the naked eye.
Take a reclining chair or blanket so you can sit or lie back and let your eyes adjust to the dark without getting a strain in your neck.
What exactly are meteors?
A piece of rock from a comet or asteroid that burns up in our atmosphere and does not reach the earth’s surface is called a meteor.
Meteors are commonly called shooting stars but they aren’t stars and are usually very small, often only the size of a grain of sand.
A solid chunk of debris that reaches the surface is called a meteorite.
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