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Draconid meteor shower: How to watch

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The Draconid meteor shower will reach its peak on Friday night in the sky across the Northern Hemisphere. 

The short-lived shower, which occurs from October 6 to 10, marks the first since August’s spectacular Perseids and is named from the constellation Draco. 

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While the meteors streaking through the sky can be traced back to Draco’s dragon head – the radiant point from which the space rocks appear to emanate – the shooting stars can be seen from all areas of the sky.

Notably, the American Meteor Society explained, the Draconids are best seen in the evening just shortly after nightfall.

A view of a shooting star (Draconid) and northern lights near Skekarsbo at the Farnebofjardens national park, 150 km (93 miles) north of Stockholm October 8, 2011. 

A view of a shooting star (Draconid) and northern lights near Skekarsbo at the Farnebofjardens national park, 150 km (93 miles) north of Stockholm October 8, 2011. 
(REUTERS/P-M Heden/Scanpix Sweden)

That said, the shower only produces around 10 to 20 meteors per hour at its peak.

The Draconid meteors are caused by debris shed by the periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, according to NASA.

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The agency notes that the comet has a six-and-a-half-year-long orbit that periodically carries it near Jupiter, leaving tendrils of dust in its wake.

Draconids, sometimes called Giacobinids, are also known for rare outbursts and in 2011 observers in Europe counted more than 600 meteors per hour, EarthSky reported last week.

To view the meteor shower, interested parties should find a dark area with an unobstructed view of the sky and avoid looking at sources of light to give the eyes a chance to adjust.

While it is possible to see the shower from the Southern Hemisphere, if the constellation Draco doesn’t rise above the horizon there or rises only briefly, there won’t be much to see.

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Stargazers also have the chance to see the Orionids during the shower’s peak on the evening of Wednesday, October 20, although AccuWeather reports that this year’s viewing will be affected by the brightness of the nearly full moon.

More meteor showers, including November’s Leonids and December’s Geminids, are on the docket before the end of the year.

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