The annual Draconid meteor shower is in full swing for skywatchers this week, and you can even watch the shooting star display online tonight (Oct. 7), courtesy of the Slooh Community Observatory.
Slooh is hosting a free Draconid meteor shower webcast tonight at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Oct. 8 GMT), featuring live video on Slooh.com from cameras in the Canary Islands, the United Kingdom and Thunder Bay, Canada. The astronomy broadcasting service will be on the air for five hours.
The Draconids occur in early October every year when the Earth goes through the stream left behind from Comet 21/P Giacobini-Zinner. This comet orbits the sun every 6.6 years.
Besides live views of the meteors, Slooh astronomer Eric Edelman will discuss what viewers need to know to watch the shower, including tips for observing, the location to look at (the constellation Draco), and supplies to bring. Also, Slooh astronomer Bob Berman will discuss the comet that created the Draconids.
"Viewers will also get a unique opportunity to learn how to capture this amazing meteor shower with their own standard DSLR camera, and how they can hear these streaking bits of space debris, even when they can't see them," Slooh representatives wrote in a statement.
"And for the historically inclined, the broadcast will also feature harrowing myths of dragons throughout history, including that of the Greek hero Hercules and his attempts to steal the golden apples of Zeus from the terrifying dragon Ladon, where the Draconids get their name."
Sometimes the shower can end up being spectacular, such as in 1933 and 1946, when thousands of meteors per hour were reported. Strong shows also occurred in 1998, 2005, and 2011.
"Most meteor showers peak well after midnight, but the Draconids are best seen between sunset and midnight when the radiant, the constellation Draco, is at its highest point in the sky," Slooh added.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace