Stargazing: Unpredictable Draconid meteor shower

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Head outside next Monday after it gets dark to view the peak of the Draconid meteor shower. The Draconids occur every year around Oct. 7 when Earth plows through a cloud of dusty debris from comet Giacobini-Zinner. Draco's head, the radiant for this shower, is at its highest point in the sky after sunset. Therefore, stargazers can view this meteor shower as soon as it gets dark, unlike the typical shower, which peaks in the wee hours of the morning.

Normally the Draconid meteor shower delivers a handful of slow-moving shooting stars an hour. However, this unpredictable shower has been known to wake up and produce dazzling displays as it last did in 2011 when European observers saw more than 600 meteors per hour.

The best way to view the Draconid meteor shower is find a dark location away from the bright city lights. Lie back on your favorite reclining chair and watch the overhead sky with nothing more than your eyes. And don't forget to dress warmly.

science


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