October is a good month for astronomers, photographers, space enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the celestial phenomenon. There is a new moon on October 16 and blue moon on October 31. There are exceptional alignments of Mars, Venus, and Uranus that will help you see the planets at impressive angles, light, or duration. And around three separate meteor showers. While there is still a long wait for many interesting space activities, there is a meteor shower happening next week.
From October 6 to 10, the sky will witness a dance of Draconid meteor shower. These are also called Giacobinidis. For space enthusiasts in India, the magical nights to witness this beautiful event are October 8 and 9, when the shower will be at its peak.
The cosmos wants the Earthlings to witness this celestial event as the moon would still be in a waning stage. It’s estimated that a late moon-rise would provide a nice, dark sky for a few hours so one can fully enjoy the meteor show.
The best time to witness a Draconid meteor shower is during the early evening. The Draconid is usually considered as a ‘sleeper,’ which means it rarely offers more than five or six meteors per hour. They are also called October Draconids because they occur during October. They are called Draconids because they seem to originate around the constellation “Draco.” However, they actually originate from Comet Giacobini–Zinner.
The most spectacular Draconid showers occurred in 1933 and 1946. It is estimated that thousands of meteors per hour were observed. Whereas in 2011, European observers recorded over 600 meteors per hour. This meteor shower occurs when Earth’s orbit overlaps orbital path of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The comet leaves behind debris which later collides with Earth’s upper atmosphere. As they collide, their energy and friction leads them to burn up and we see them as the Draconid meteor shower.
Its perihelion, which is its orbit’s closest point to the sun, is about the same as the distance between Earth and Sun. The comet’s last perihelion was September 10, 2018. It was closest to the sun than it had been in 72 years, resulting in a phenomenal outburst.
The comet has an orbital period of about seven years. Therefore, the next perihelion will not come until 2025. Any spectacular outburst isn’t expected this year, but cosmos might surprise and give an impressive show anyway. Use this map to spot the best places for stargazing.