Draconid meteor shower to light up the skies - here's when you can see it

Skygazers are set to catch a glimpse of celestial fireworks in between rainy spells overnight as the Earth passes through a cloud of cometary dust.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 4:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 2:23 pm

The Draconid meteor shower, also known as the Giacobinids, will peak at 2am on October 9, as blustery rain continues across various parts of the country.

But forecasters say there will be ‘clear spells’ that will allow the cosmic spectacle to be visible to the naked eye.

Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said: ‘The outlook overnight will be showery across the UK, with Scotland experiencing the heaviest and most prolonged showers and the south-east of England the least.

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A meteor shower will light up the skies tonight. Picture: Sergei Gapon /Getty Images
A meteor shower will light up the skies tonight. Picture: Sergei Gapon /Getty Images

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‘In between showers there will be clear spells, so most locations should enable skywatchers the chance to experience some of the meteor shower.’

The Draconid meteor shower takes place every year and is one of the two meteor showers to light up the skies in October.

The streaks spawn from the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which orbits around the sun for six-and-a-half years.

Anna Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: ‘Most of this debris will burn up at a height of around 80km (50 miles) above the ground, so this is not a dangerous event.’

The celestial phenomenon gets its name from the Draco the Dragon constellation, which lies in the far northern part of the sky, and the comet that is responsible for it.

The Draconids will be visible in northern America, Europe and Asia until October 10, with around 5-20 meteors per hour during its peak.

Ms Ross said: ‘For the best chances to spot them, find a dark area of clear sky and allow around 20 minutes to let your eyes adapt to the dark.

‘It may also be advisable to lie down as you may be looking up for a long time.’

A second meteor shower, the Orionids, will also take place later this month, peaking on October 21.