Draconids 2024: Where & When to See the Meteor Shower in October?
The October Draconids, also known as just the Draconids or Giacobinids, are an unpredictable meteor shower that peaks in October. Although it's usually a fairly modest meteor shower, it has made history with its dramatic outbursts. Here's everything you need to know about the Draconids and how to view them in 2024.
- Draconid meteor shower in 2024: when and where to see?
- How to find the Draconids?
- Draconids’ parent body: comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
- Draconids 2024: Conclusion
Draconid meteor shower in 2024: when and where to see?
- Meteors/hour: 5
- Moon illumination: 28%
- Active: October 6-10
- Peak of activity: October 8
- Radiant location: constellation Draco
- Parent body: Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
- Visible from: Northern Hemisphere
- Description: The October Draconids (often simply referred to as the Draconids) are a small meteor shower that typically produces about 5 meteors per hour at its peak, but is also known for periodic outbursts.
October Draconids 2024 visibility forecast
The October Draconids reach their peak on the night of October 8. The waxing crescent Moon won’t pose any obstacle. It will set before 21:00 local time, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy meteors in the moonless sky. Note that this meteor shower is best viewed in the evening hours, before midnight. Start to watch the meteors as soon as it gets dark on October 8.
In 2024, the Draconid meteor shower is predicted to produce around 5 “shooting stars” per hour at its peak. However, there's a chance this meteor shower may surprise us. This year, the Earth will pass through two dust trails left behind by the Draconids' parent comet in 1852 and 1859. While we can't exactly predict how this will affect the meteor shower, let's hope for an activity outburst.
Where to see the Draconids 2024?
The radiant location of the Draconids is located near the so-called Dragon’s Eyes – the stars Eltanin and Rastaban in the constellation Draco. But you don't have to look directly at the radiant – in fact, you shouldn't, because the closer the meteors are to the radiant, the shorter their tails are. To observe the Draconids, just look overhead and be patient. For more meteor viewing tips, check out our colorful infographic.
The Draconids are best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, where the radiant rises to its highest point in the evening sky. It's also possible to view the meteor shower from the northern latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, but it will look less spectacular out there.
How to find the Draconids?
You can easily locate the Draconids' radiant in the sky above you with the free Sky Tonight app. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Open the app and tap the magnifier icon.
- In the search bar, enter the meteor shower’s name – "October Draconids."
- Tap the blue target button next to the October Draconids’ radiant. The app will display the meteor shower's radiant position on the sky map.
- To locate the Draconids' radiant above you, tap the blue compass button or point your device at the sky. A white arrow will guide you to the radiant position. Move your device following with the arrow until you spot the Draconids' radiant on the screen. The image corresponds to the actual sky at your location.
Draconids’ parent body: comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
The Draconid meteors are bits of dust burning up in our atmosphere. This dust originates from the periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. Here is what the comet’s name means:
- The letter P indicates a periodic (or short-period) comet – comets of this type take less than 200 years to orbit the Sun. 21P/Giacobini-Zinner has a 6.6-year orbit;
- The number 21 indicates that it's the 21st comet of this type to be discovered;
- Giacobini and Zinner are the names of the two scientists, Michel Giacobini and Ernst Zinner, who discovered the comet. Michel Giacobini visually spotted it on December 20, 1900, from the Nice Observatory in France. Notably, his name inspired the other common designation of the Draconids – the Giacobinids. Later, German astronomer Ernst Zinner rediscovered the comet on October 23, 1913.
When the comet reaches its perihelion (closest approach to the Sun), it can create a meteor storm. Around the perihelion of 21P/Giacobini-Zinner in 1933 and 1946, the observers reported seeing several thousand meteors an hour. The most recent perihelion passage for 21P/Giacobini-Zinner occurred on September 10, 2018. On the same night, the world experienced the Draconids’ outburst with up to 100 meteors per hour. The comet is set to reach perihelion again in 2025.
21P/Giacobini-Zinner isn't just famous for producing the Draconids. It's also special for coming as close to the Sun as the Earth. At its farthest point from the Sun, the comet comes just past the orbit of Jupiter. Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner has also made a great contribution to science. In 1985, it was the first comet visited by a spacecraft, the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) satellite, which passed through its plasma tail.
Now that you know about the first comet flyby, would you like to test your knowledge of other “firsts in space?” Challenge yourself with our quiz and impress your friends by sharing your results. Tip: you can retake the quiz to get the new set of questions and improve your score.
Draconids 2024: Conclusion
In 2024, the Draconids peak on the night of October 8. Although the meteor shower is expected to produce only 5 meteors per hour at its peak, these meteors will be well-seen in the almost moonless sky. Moreover, the Draconids are unpredictable, so let's keep our fingers crossed for a larger display. And even if the meteor shower doesn't meet our expectations this year, let's give it another chance in 2025, when the Draconids’ parent comet returns to the inner Solar System, possibly unleashing the Draconid meteor storm. To see more “shooting stars” in October, check our article on October meteor showers.
Keep your eyes on the sky! Wishing you the best of luck in your observations.