Experts estimate as many as five shooting stars will be visible in the heavens every hour by Wednesday night. The annual spectacular meteor show takes place when our planet passes through cosmic debris.
This is the detritus left behind by icy comet Giacobini-Zinner after it disintegrated after its orbit swung too close to the Sun.
Most years, we pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by
NASA’s Bill Cooke
Comet Giacobini–Zinner supplies fresh debris every 6.6 years as it passes on its orbit through the inner solar system.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement: “Most years, we pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by.
“Occasionally, though, we hit one nearly head on — and the fireworks begin.”
Tiny meteors are consequently created from the tiny fragments of the comet incinerate as they hit the Earth’s thick atmosphere.
And these are then easily visible to the naked eye as they streak across the night sky as shooting stars.
On very rare occasions, the Draconids are capable of creating a meteor shower with hundreds of meteors on an hourly basis.
This is an unusual meteor shower, because unlike others, the Draconids are best viewed in the evening, immediately after nightfall.
This impending shooting star display will be best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere.
Astronomers agree these are best viewed just after dusk, when the skies are clear and away from light pollution.
However, weather will most likely be the biggest hindrance to enjoying a proper view of the Draconids this year, as thick clouds will significantly reduce visibility.
The UK Met Office’s forecast for tomorrow evening is variable – with scattered showers and cloud cover expected.
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When is the 2020 Draconid meteor shower peak?
The Draconid shower is predicted to be active annually around early October.
Over these four days, stray Draconid meteors should – weather permitting – appear late at night.
However, the most awe-inspiring scenes should occur on one night when the shower peaks.
This year, the Draconid’s peak will occur tomorrow (Wednesday, October 7, into the early hours of Thursday, October 8.
Top tips for viewing the 2020 Draconid meteor shower:
To get the best views of tomorrow’s Draconid meteor shower, you should go somewhere with clear skies and away from light pollution.
Such “dark sky preserves” include the Brecon Beacons and Exmoor and Galloway Forest national parks.
Astronomers suggest stargazers should lie on their back and use only their eyes to watch a shower, as this will allow them to take in as much of the sky as possible.
US space agency NASA also recommends giving your eyes time to adjust to the dark, at least half an hour before the shower’s peak.
NASA wrote in a statement: “Try to stay off of your phone too, as looking at devices with bright screens will negatively affect your night vision and hence reduce the number of meteors you see.”
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