How to See the Draconids Meteor Shower 2021 Peak on October 8

Skywatching enthusiasts may want to keep an eye out for the Draconids meteor shower.

Due to reach peak activity on October 8, the Draconids are one of the many annual meteor showers.

The shower occurs in the Northern Hemisphere and, as its name suggests, appears to come from the direction of the Draco constellation.

It might be possible to spot a fragment from the shower on the nights before and after October 8 as well, according to astronomy website EarthSky. It may be best spotted in the evening.

Meteor showers are also best observed in areas with as little light pollution as possible, so getting away from bright lights will help. A clear sky is also needed. Then, look up!

It should be noted, however, that the Draconids are not a particularly strong meteor shower, and most years very few meteors can be spotted.

In fact, they're listed as a Class III shower by the American Meteor Society (AMS), the second-lowest class of meteor showers in terms of how easy they are to spot.

Class III showers only tend to produce strong activity on rare occasions, and much of the time observers may only get to see one shooting star per night. For contrast, some strong meteor showers can produce several per hour—or even dozens, as is the case with the famous Perseid meteor shower.

Still, the Draconids have been known to put on some spectacular, if rare, displays.

According to Royal Museums Greenwich in the U.K., the Draconids produced some of the most active displays of the 20th century in the years 1933 and 1946.

In fact, during the 1933 shower, around 500 Draconid meteors were seen per minute in Europe, NASA states. This is classed as a meteor storm.

Meteor showers are caused by comets—chunks of dirt and ice that orbit our sun, leaving behind a trail of countless tiny fragments as they slowly disintegrate over time.

Occasionally, the Earth passes through a trail left behind by one of these comets, and these tiny particles end up zipping through our atmosphere at high speed.

The resulting friction causes the particles to burn up, turning them into bright streaks of light as they pierce the night sky.

The comet responsible for the Draconids is called 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, so named because it was discovered by Michel Giacobini in 1900 and spotted again by Ernst Zinner around 13 years later.

Comets are usually named after the people who discovered them or after the observatory or telescope used to spot them.

The comet is thought to measure around 1.2 miles in diameter, and takes about 6.6 years to orbit the sun.

Meteor shower
A meteor streaks through the sky in Schermbeck, Germany, on April 22, 2020. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes behind a comet. Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images / Getty