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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Draconids meteor shower could be visible this evening

In 2019, peak activity occurs on the evening of Tuesday 8 October

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The Draconids meteor shower could be seen tonight and tomorrow night.

Meteor shower alert! – the Draconids are coming to a night sky near you. In 2019, peak activity occurs on the evening of Tuesday 8 October. This year, a bright waxing gibbous moon will block many of the meteors, but if the night is clear, this evening shower is well worth a look.

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The Draconids typically produce between 5-10 meteors an hour. These meteors are caused by the Earth passing through the debris left behind comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. As this debris – mostly made of small dust grains – hits Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, it heats up and disintegrates in flashes of light that we call meteors.

While the Draconids are normally quite a minor meteor shower, they have been known to produce spectacular outbursts of hundreds or even thousands of meteors per hour, as happened in 1933, 1946, and 2011. We’re not expecting any outbursts in 2019, but meteor shower outbursts are notoriously hard to predict, so you never know!

Unlike most meteor showers, the Draconids peak in the early evening, after sunset, rather than middle of the night.

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